Four people were killed in Chattogram and one in Brahmanbaria in clashes between Hefajat men and police yesterday.
Hefajat men also clashed with ruling Awami men in Dhaka. Police fired tear gas canisters and rubber bullets to calm the situation.
The incidents left at least 100 people, including two photojournalists of The Daily Star, injured.
Hefajat men also blocked rail tracks in Brahmanbaria, snapping its railway communication with three other districts — Chattogram, Sylhet and Noakhali.
Later in the day, the Chattogram-based Islamist organisation announced that it will enforce a dawn-to-dusk hartal tomorrow across the country, protesting the killings and attack on its men by members of law enforcement agencies and ruling party men.
The clashes broke out when Hefajat men brought out processions in Chattogram, Dhaka and Brahmanbaria after Juma prayers yesterday, protesting the ongoing Bangladesh visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The deceased in Chattogram were identified as Kazi Mirazul Islam, 40, Robiul Islam, 27, Wahidul Islam, 15, and Jamil.
Jahirul Islam, in-charge of Chattogram Medical College Hospital police box, told The Daily Star that four people were brought dead at the CMCH.
A duty-doctor at the emergency department, seeking not to be named, said the four had sustained bullet wounds.
Besides, at least seven people received treatment at the hospital, according to its registrar book.
Hefajat leaders in Chattogram claimed that police fired at their processions without provocation while police alleged that Hefajat activists broke into Hathazari Police Station and vandalised the compound, prompting them to fire retaliatory shots in self-defense.
Sources in the police said that two groups of people threw brick chunks at the police station. At one stage, they entered the police station compound and vandalised the window pans. Police in self-defense retaliated with bullet fires, said the sources.
Meanwhile, Ruhul Amin, upazila nirbahi officer of Hathazari, told The Daily Star, that vehicles, a bungalow and land office under Hathazari upazila administration were set also ablaze and land documents torched.
Talking to this daily, Azizul Haque Islamabadi, a Hefajat leader, said they brought a “peaceful” procession opposing Modi’s visit. But police, without any provocation, fired at them, leaving four dead and many others injured, he claimed.
He demanded that those involved in the incident be brought to book. Otherwise, they will wage a tougher movement, he warned.
A witness, Hafej Mostakim Billah, a student of Hathazari madrasa in Chattogram, claimed that they went to have tea at a tea stall in front of Hathazari Police Station.
“All of sudden, we saw police firing bullets at us without any reason,” he said.
The Daily Star tried to contact police high-ups for comments, but no official comment was available.
A clash erupted when Hefajat men brought out anti-Modi demonstration from the north gate of the national mosque just after the prayers yesterday.
Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) leaders and activists, who had taken position in the mosque and nearby areas, threw brickbats at the protesters and tried to push them back inside the mosque, witnesses said.
Protesters, however, regrouped and retaliated against the ruling party’s leaders and activists. At one point, the clash broke out and chase and counter chase took place.
Police tried to bring the situation under control by firing tear gas canisters and rubber bullets.
It continued for around two hours, said witnesses.
The tension eased after 5:00pm after ruling party men left the area. Hefajat men left too on police assurance.
The correspondent saw seven burnt motorbikes at the north and south gates of the national mosque. City corporation staff were found collecting the brickbats.
The Daily Star’s on-duty photojournalists — Amran Hossain and Prabir Das — were seriously injured. They took treatment at Dhaka Medical College Hospital.
Doctors said Prabir’s right shoulder got dislocated and there was fracture. Amran needed three stitches on his head.
A journalist of Ekattor TV, a private television channel, was also among the injured.
Syed Nurul Islam, deputy commissioner of Motijheel Division Police, said some mosque-goers started behaving suspiciously after the prayers and some “devotees” protested it.
He did not elaborate what he meant.
“When the police tried to go inside to stop the clash, they started throwing brickbats leaving police and other devotees injured,” he said.
DC Nurul said police fired rubber bullets and tear gas to control the situation.
Asked about the identity of the protestors, he said they were none but those who do not want to establish a Taliban state.
Asked if the police failed to bring the situation under control, he said the mosque was a holy place. “Protesters are using the mosque-goers as shields. We tried calm the situation applying different tactics. We did not use excessive force only to protect the dignity of the mosque,” he added.
In Brahmanbaria, Hefajat men vandalised property in and around the railway station there and started fire on the intersections near the station. They also damaged a mural of Bangabandhu in the Old Kachari area.
Besides, Hefajat men assaulted The Daily Star’s local correspondent while he was capturing photos of vandalism.
Sohrab Hossain, a duty officer at Brahmanbaria Police Station, said one Ashik, 20, was killed in a clash in the town.
In the capital Dhaka, at least 148 people, including five journalists, were injured during a clash between police and demonstrators who tried to bring out a procession after Jumma prayers at Dhaka’s Baitul Mukarram National Mosque area yesterday.
A total of 148 people, who were injured in the clash, took treatment from Dhaka Medical College Hospital till 8:45pm, according to the DMCH register, our DMCH correspondent reports quoting a hospital source.
Of them, four people — Mahtab Hossain (32), Babu (40), Samir (21) and Rahmatullah (48) — were admitted to the DMCH.
The five injured journalists, including The Daily Star’s photojournalists Amran Hossain and Prabir Das, also took treatment from the hospital, said inspector Bachchu Miah, in-charge of the DMCH police camp.
Meanwhile, four other people, who were injured in the clash, came under attack allegedly by a group of Awami League men when they came to the emergency unit of the hospital for treatment around 6:00pm.
“Four people came here from Baitul Mukarram to take treatment. At that time, more than a hundred leaders and activists of various Awami League organisations were present in front of the emergency unit. They [AL men] suddenly attacked the four men. We tried a lot but could not stop them. Later, however, no untoward incident took place,” inspector Bachchu Miah told The Daily Star.
The police official said the four victims later left the DMCH without any treatment.
Immediately after Jummah, many demonstrators started chanting slogans against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s arrival in Dhaka near the south gate of the mosque, prompting police to fire rubber bullets and charge batons on them.
The Daily Star’s photojournalists on duty — Amran Hossain and Prabir Das — were seriously injured in the clash. Prabir’s arm has been fractured while Amran has sustained a head injury.
A journalist of Ekattor TV, a private television channel, was also among the injured. UNB correspondent M Jahangir Alam was hit by a rubber bullet.
Two motorcycles were also burnt in front of the south gate of the national mosque, our staff correspondent reports.
Paltan Police Station Officer-in-Charge Abu Bakkar Siddique told The Daily Star, “None was arrested in this connection. Several police members were also injured during the clash but the number could not be known.”
No case was filed in this regard, the OC added.