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Abdin assaulted by hostile cops

Edit Date:7/7/2011 12:00:00 AM

First Day of Hartal


BNP asks home minister to quit; Sahara regrets excesses; case filed against Abdin

A policeman punches Opposition Chief Whip Zainul Abdin Farroque in the face after he fell on the ground near the parliament complex yesterday. Photo: Palash Khan

Opposition Chief Whip Zainul Abdin Farroque was assaulted by the law enforcers yesterday, the first day of the 48-hour countrywide hartal called by BNP-led four-party alliance.

In a late night development, Sher-e-Bangla Nagar police filed a case against 10 to 12 people including Abdin on charge of assaulting police, law enforcement sources said.

Witnesses and BNP sources said police beat up and kicked him severely at one stage of an altercation with him at Manik Mia Avenue in the capital around 6:30am.

Police also tried to forcibly pick him up on their van but he fell on the street as the van started to move before he could be dragged onto it. His head was bleeding profusely at this stage.

The BNP leader was being treated at the Intensive Care Unit of United Hospital in the city last night. Doctors said they cannot comment on his condition within 72 hours.

Acting Secretary General of the party Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said Abdin needed 11 stitches on his head but it could not be verified from the hospital authorities.

Police said they tried to pick him up when he hit a police official, and that he might suffer injuries during the scuffle to prevent his arrest.

Two police men were also injured during the scuffle, they added.

The law enforcers, however, gave the demonstrators no scope whatsoever to stage agitation during the shutdown called in protest against scrapping of the caretaker government system and “hurting” the religious sentiment of the people through the 15th amendment to the constitution.

More than 456 people, including 62 in the capital, were arrested across the country amid sporadic clashes between the police and hartal supporters in some areas.

The BNP central office at city's Nayapaltan was cordoned off since early morning. The hartal began at 6:00am yesterday and will end at 6:00am tomorrow.

A 12-party alliance led by Bangladesh Khelafat Majlish will enforce a 30-hour shutdown from Sunday morning till 12:00noon of Monday in protest against dropping of the phrase “absolute faith in Allah” from the constitution.

The two-day weekend -- Friday and Saturday -- falls between the two hartals.

Besides deploying a huge number of police and Rab members, the government used mobile courts to try the hartal supporters on the spot. In the capital, at least 21 people were jailed by the mobile courts on different charges including for trying to bring processions, said Masudur Rahman, additional deputy commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police.

Meanwhile, Fakhrul Islam Alamgir demanded resignation of Home Minister Sahara Khatun for the police assault on Farroque.

Sahara regretted the incident and said, “I'm sorry for whatever reason he was injured.” She was talking to reporters after visiting the injured police officers at Rajarbagh police lines hospital yesterday evening.

Shamsul Haque Tuku, state minister for home, termed the police action unexpected and cautioned all concerned to be careful in the future to avoid such incidents.

But he said, “BNP leaders and lawmakers provoked the police to take action against Zainul Abdin Farroque.”

Tuku added that action will be taken against the police members if they are found guilty of overacting.

BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia in a statement condemned the police assault. BNP will stage a sit-in before the parliament protesting the “brutal and inhumane” torture.

Different political parties and human rights organisations also condemned the attack on the opposition supporters.

“The intolerant attitude of police and truncheon charge on the opposition chief whip and pedestrians will lead the political situation towards further confrontation,” rights body Ain o Salish Kendra said.

Awami League Joint Secretary General Mahbubul Alam Hanif, however, said Farroque sustained “minor injuries” in a scuffle with the police.

Witnesses said a group of opposition lawmakers led by Farroque started a march around 6:00am from Manik Mia Avenue. They tried to stage a sit-in on the street in Farmgate but failed due to police obstruction. Later, they marched towards the parliament. Farroque engaged in an altercation with police men when they reached Manik Mia Avenue for a second time.

Police officials said Farroque threw brickbats to a passenger bus at one stage of their march. Police requested him not to do so but he screamed at them.

According to witness, Farroque hurled abuse to a police officer who threatened to slap him. Police then beat him and tried to detain him. But Farroque lost his balance and fell on the street.

They said some BNP men took Farroque to the nearby Nam building adjacent to the parliament and made him sit at its entrance. Few minutes later, Farroque and others ran towards to building as they saw some police men approaching. But police caught Farroque in front of an elevator of the Nam building and beat him up again.

Rehana Akhter Ranu, a BNP lawmaker who was present during the incident, told The Daily Star that police attacked Farroque without any provocation.

Meanwhile, no long-distance bus left from or arrived in Dhaka. A few passenger buses, mostly of the BRTC, plied the city streets. Commuters had to depend largely on CNG-run auto-rickshaws and rickshaws.

Commuter trains, however, left the Kamalapur Railway Station on time, said officials. But launch services were disrupted.

Shopping malls, stores along the main streets, and educational institutions remained closed.

Government offices and both state-run and private offices opened with many of the staff walking or riding rickshaws to and from work.

Unidentified people burnt at least four buses in New Market, Khilkhet, Gulistan and Savar between 8:00 and 9:00pm, fire service sources said.

Police picked up eight activists of Jamaat-e-Islami from city's Mirpur.

Kazi Wazed Ali, officer-in-charge (OC) of Mirpur Police Station, said a police team led by Assistant Commissioner of Pallabi Siraj Amin and OC of Kafrul Police Station Abdul Latif intercepted a procession brought out by Jamaat at Senpara Parbata.

Resisted, the hartal supporters hurled bricks leaving Siraj and Latif injured. Police later dispersed them and detained the Jamaat men.

In Mohakhali, Noor-e-Ara Safa, a former lawmaker and president of Jatiyatabadi Mohila Dal, and five activists of the party were picked up.

In Chittagong, police detained 12 BNP activists from different parts of the city.

Four of them were arrested with two Molotov cocktails and two containers of patrol from Agrabad of the port city.


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