Bangladesh police reported one officer and a protester killed and dozens injured during rallies by opposition political parties in the country. The Awami League and the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party held planned rallies, while BNP ally Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami defied a police ban and staged its own gathering near Dhaka’s Motijheel area.
BNP spokesman Zahir Uddin Swapan claimed that the police and Awami League armed cadres attacked a peaceful rally, while Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal and a police spokesman alleged that the opposition parties were responsible for the violence. They attacked the police hospital in Rajarbagh, killed one on-duty policeman, torched two buses and police installations, stopped vehicles carrying women activists of the Awami League, and mercilessly beat up 25 of them.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) spokesman Faruk Hossain reported that BNP-Jamaat “opposition attackers” torched dozens of vehicles in over a dozen locations in Dhaka, resulting in at least 50 police personnel being injured. The violence ended by Saturday evening, with the dead officer identified as Constable Aminul Parvez. A BNP organizer claimed that Shamim Mollah, a leader of the party’s youth front, Jubo Dal, was killed during a clash with officers.
A police hospital official suggested Mollah might have suffered a heart attack. Witnesses reported clashes between Awami League and BNP activists at the Kakrail intersection and Nightingale crossing. Police responded with rubber bullets, tear gas, and water cannons to disperse the crowds. The home ministry called in Border Guard Bangladesh to assist in quelling violence in Kakrail neighborhood. The ruling party was not involved in the attacks, and those responsible must face legal action. The U.S. Embassy in Dhaka condemned the violence.
The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has called for calm and restraint in response to violence against civilians, including journalists, during a series of events. The BNP has estimated the crowd at 100,000, and organizers have called for a daylong general strike on Sunday to protest actions by police and the ruling party. The BNP central office reported that at least 830 people had been arrested during the last week, with Khairul Kabir Khokon, BNP’s joint secretary general, taken into custody by detectives.
The DMP said the number was lower, noting that at least 311 BNP leaders and activists had been arrested between October 21 and 25. Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader did not rule out the use of violence ahead of the rallies, stating that if the BNP comes to attack them, they will not sit quietly. A counterattack must happen, as Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader told reporters on Thursday.