Vol. 4 Num 333 Sat. May 08, 2004  
Front Page

Tongi lurches into virtual battlefield, two killed
Sec 144 slapped; train, shops, cars attacked

Tongi exploded into outrage at the killing of Awami League lawmaker Ahsanullah Master yesterday, setting off a series of violent incidents that left two youths dead and a trail of destruction in their wake.

With the news of the murder of the AL leader at a rally in his hometown spreading fast, hundreds of marauding demonstrators moved out into the streets with iron rods and sticks in hand and smashed or burnt scores of passing vehicles.

They torched two carriages of a train, uprooted rail tracks, vandalised shops and tore down wayside bus-ticket counters before setting them afire, prompting police to slap Section 144 to stop violence in the industrial town, 20 kilometres north of the capital.

Several hundred demonstrators from Tongi damaged the country retreat at Banashri of Giasuddin Al Mamun, a friend of Prime Minister Khaleda Zia's son Tarique Rahman.

Tongi lurched into a virtual battlefield, as armed demonstrators and police exchanged fire.

The main opposition party named one of the dead as Hanif, an AL activist, who was killed in crossfire in Natun Bazar, not far from Noagaon MA Majid Mia High School where Ahsanullah was gunned down.

Witnesses said up to 40 supporters went on the rampage shortly after 5:00pm and some of them fired into the sky, leaving 30-year-old Afaz Uddin, a textiles worker, killed by a stray bullet on the rooftop of a one-storey building in Natun Bazar.

The protesters blocked Mymensingh Road and the railway through Tongi, snapping road links and train service from Dhaka to other districts through Gazipur until 11:00pm. They burnt tree trunks and tyres on roads.

The killing of the 54-year-old opposition lawmaker came a day before a three-day annual meeting of donors expected to discus law and order downslide in Bangladesh.


Hundreds of police and paramilitary forces made futile attempts to quell the tempers of the protestors, who burnt three offices of Tongi unit of the ruling BNP and its front organisations.

Arsonists with apparent ties to the AL burnt 10 buses of City Service in Joydevpur and one in Tongi. More than 100 other vehicles were vandalised in Gazipur and Dhaka.

A 15-year-old girl, Sham-sunnahar, suffered pellet wounds in crossfire as police fired from shotguns in the rail station area in Tongi to prevent a mob's bid to torch another train. A ceramic trader, Al Amin, suffered bullet wounds. The 20-year-old is undergoing treatment at Dhaka Medical College Hospital.


Police teargassed angry crowds on Bangabandhu Avenue in Dhaka that houses the main opposition party's headquarters and clubbed opposition adherents there as they tried to take out a protest procession.

Police also lobbed a string of teargas canisters to prevent the opposition leaders and workers from staging demonstrations after they blocked all roads to Bangabandhu Avenue with barbed-wire fences.

Outraged activists damaged a car near Noor Hossain Square and police used batons to disperse opposition workers there. Security was tightened around busy points in the capital where tension ran high in the wake of the killing.

The killing of Ahsanullah sent a ripple of violence as far as Munshiganj. The private news agency, UNB, said police baton-charged processions of AL activists, injuring at least eight of them in Srinagar upazila.

Angry Awami League (AL) supporters in Tongi set fire to a train, left, a bus, middle, and the office of Tongi Jubo Dal, right, after unnamed gunmen killed AL lawmaker Ahsanullah Master at a rally in his hometown yesterday. PHOTO: STAR