Fierce clashes broke out between the Hefazat-e-Islam activists and the law enforcing agencies from early Monday morning and as many as 31 people, including three members of the law enforcing agencies, were killed in different areas of the country. Around 3 am, members of police, Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) stormed the Shapla Square in Motijheel to disperse thousands of Hefazat activists, prompting clashes that left eight people dead.
Driven out from the Motijheel venue, the activists regrouped at Kachpur area. Fresh clashes began around 8 am, when the Hefazat activists blocked the Dhaka-Chittagong highway at Shanir Akhra, Kachpur and Simrail areas. The encounter left another 15 people, including a BGB member and two cops, dead.
Earlier, through a massive pre-dawn drive, the combined forces of some 10,000 riot police, elite RAB and paramilitary BGB troops were able to clear the Shapla Chattar in the commercial district of Motijheel of Hefajat activists.
During the drive police allowed Hefajat activists to flee and many were seen running with hands raising above their heads towards Arambag, Kamlapur and Tikatuli.
Some Hefajat supporters hurled crude bombs and brickbats at the law enforcers while fleeing.
During the drive armoured cars stormed into the spot from the directions of Notre Dame College and Dainik Bangla intersection as the law enforcers showered the crowd with teargas shells and rubber bullets.
After the massive operation, Motijheel area was found littered with papers, sandals and bags. Five vehicles were also burning at the scene.
“The Motijheel is now under our control. Members of the Hefazat-e- Islami has quit the area,” Lt Col. Ziaul Ahsan, chief of the intelligence wing of the RAB told The Independent at 3.30 am.
Eyewitnesses said it took the law enforcing agencies about 30 minutes to clear the Motijheel areas. They chased the Hefazat activists by exploding “stun grenades” and fired gunshots into the air. But before launching the operation, the law enforcers issued repeated warnings through loud speakers, asking the Hefazat activists to immediately vacate the entire area.
Though the law enforcers did not give any specific information about the casualty figures in the operation, hospital sources said eight bodies were kept at Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH), where more than 75 people underwent medical aid since 3 am on Monday.
The activists of the Hefazat, a newly floated radical group mostly manned by students of unregistered madrasas, ran towards Sayedabad and Jatrabari areas, the south-eastern gateway to the capital. However, several hundred Hefazat activists regrouped at Kachpur in Narayanganj since 6 am in the morning and put up barricade on the Dhaka-Chittagong highway, triggering fresh clashes.
Narayanganj police superintendent Syed Nurul Islam told The Independent that at least 50 people, including 15 policemen and BGB troopers, were injured in the clashes,.
The Hefazat activists vandalised at least 150 vehicles, of which eight belonged to the police, BGB and state-run BRTC were set on fire. Activists also burned down a traffic police outpost.
The law enforcers killed in the encounter were identified as BGB trooper Shah Alam and police constables Zakaria and Firoz. BGB trooper Lavlu, police SI Sulaiman and Pannu were admitted to the hospital in critical condition.
An unidentified body recovered from the site of the clashes was kept at Maa Medical Lab in Narayanganj’s Shimrail More, its emergency unit Dr Abdul Quaiyum said. Some other people hit by bullets were also admitted there, he added.
Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) director general Maj. Gen. Aziz Ahmed visited Dhaka Medical College Hospital. Talking to reporters, he said the Hefazat supporters, while leaving Dhaka, were joined by “some miscreants” in putting up a blockade and resorted to acts of vandalism. The police and the BGB were attacked, when they tried to chase them away, he added.
Those killed in Narayanganj clash were identified as: Shah Alam, a BGB member, constable Zakaria Mollah, 44, son of late Akbar Ali of Baliapara village in Bhanga upazila and Nayek Feroz Khan, 53, son of Kanchan Khan of Noyapara village in Alfadanga upazila of Faridpur district, Saiful Islam, Masum, Jannan, Babu Gazi, Jasim, Marjanul Islam of Hirajheel area at Siddhirganj in Narayanganj and Mizan, assistant of a covered van.
The Hefazat supporters moved from the highway around 11am, but continued to pelt the police and the border guards with brickbats in adjoining areas.
In Chittagong, at least six people were killed and 50 injured in clashes between the HIB activists and law enforcers. Till the filing of the report, clashes were on in Hathajari in Chittagong. Similar clashes also took place in Sylhet, Bagerhat and Bogra.
Of the six deceased, four were identified as Mamun (22), Anwar Zahed (23), Jashim (32) and Abu Noman (40).
According to our Hathajari upazila correspondent, Hefazat activists took to the streets and went on rampage in
Hathajari upazila at about 3 pm, when they heard a rumour that their chief, Ahmed Shafi, was arrested by the law enforcers in Dhaka.
This resulted in sporadic clashes among the police and Hefazat activists. Two persons succumbed to their injuries on their way to Chittagong Medical College Hospital (CMCH). Other injured people were undergoing treatment at different hospitals and clinics of Hathajari and Chittagong city.
Additional members of law enforcing agencies, including Armed Police Battalion (APBn), Rapid Action Battalion and Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) have been deployed at the clash-hit areas of Hathajari to bring the situation under control.
Communication between Chittagong and Rangamati-Khagrachhari district headquarters remained suspended till the filing this report as the Hefazat men put blockade on different points of Chittagong-Hathajari-Rangamat and Chittagong-Hathajari-Khagrachhari roads from Sunday afternoon.
According to the witnesses, hundreds of Hefazat activists, teachers and students of two local Quomi Madrsa of Hathajari upazila, took to the streets and blocked the Chittagong-Kaptai road at Kuyaish, College Road, Charia and Isapur Bazar areas of Hathazari upazila at around 9:00 am.
In Bagerhat, clashes erupted when the police tried to disperse the HIB activists blocking the Katakhali-Bagerhat highway. During the clashes, the police opened fire, killing two Hefazat workers, Hafiz Mir (40) and Saiful Islam (39).
Additional SP circle Shohidul Islam, along with seven policemen, were also injured. Another clash took place when the Hefazat activists put up barricades at Shukdara point in neighbouring Culkathi.
Additional SP of Bagerhat, Pankaj Kumer Roy, said the clash started when the police tried to remove the barricade. Seven policemen were injured during the clash, he added.
-With The Independent input