Committed to PEOPLE'S RIGHT TO KNOW
Vol. 5 Num 90 Tue. August 24, 2004  
   
Front Page


Cops, BNP men attack protest processions


At least 15 Awami League (AL) activists were injured yesterday when workers of ruling BNP's labour wing aided by police swooped on a procession in Gulistan to drum up support for the dawn-to-dusk hartal today and tomorrow.

The transport workers of Jatiyatabadi Sramik Dal also beat up six journalists when they were taking snaps of the attack on the AL activists, who were demonstrating against Saturday's terrorist attacks on an AL rally that killed 18 and injured at least 200.

Fears of fresh terror attacks and violence ahead of the hartals stalked city-dwellers.

Classes and examinations remained suspended at educational institutions across the country barring a few exceptions. Presence at the offices was thin and public life was hampered as many transport owners kept their vehicles off the roads.

The AL ruled the entire Gulistan area with a series of rallies and processions, attended by top leaders Haji Mohammad Selim, Motia Chowdhury and lawmaker Sohel Taj, in a show of protest against the gruesome grenade attacks on AL President Sheikh Hasina.

After the rally in front of the AL headquarters on Bangabandhu Avenue, several thousand activists paraded through the Zero Point, Purana Paltan Crossing, Dainik Bangla Intersection, Rajuk Avenue, Mahanagar Natya Mancha and Fulbaria Bus Terminal.

Witnesses said AL supporters went berserk at one point, smashing windowpanes of the Jibon Bima Bhaban and damaging some roadside shops along the Moulana Bhasani Hockey Stadium, Rajuk Avenue and Gulistan.

When the procession approached the Gulistan Bus Terminal and the demonstrators attempted to damage parked vehicles, the BNP-backed transport workers, armed with sticks and bricks, pounced on them.

The workers and the police beat up journalists on duty before bringing out an anti-hartal procession from the area.

GLOOMY CITY, PANICKY DWELLERS

With the memory of Saturday's incident still fresh, most panicky city-dwellers stayed back at home and those who braved the fear were desperate to hurry back.

Police and paramilitary forces and Armed Police Battalion manned the city points and frisked people on suspicion. Intelligence agents mounted a sharp watch on different points.

Presence at most non-government offices was unusually thin and most schools, colleges and universities suspended classes and examinations for an indefinite period. A few government schools however held examinations yesterday.

The city was free of traffic jam for a change as the BRTC (Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation) and many transport owners pulled out their buses from the streets yesterday. The BRTC officials however said their buses would ply today and tomorrow despite hartal.

Taxicabs, CNG autorickshaws, Mishuk and other public vehicles made most of the unusual day charging fare much higher than usual.

Picture
Main opposition Awami League leaders and workers, left, take out a procession from the party's Bangabandhu Avenue headquarters in Dhaka yesterday in protest at Saturday's attack on a party rally and in support of the hartal called for today and tomorrow; and policemen club AL lawmaker Sohel Taj near Golap Shah Mazar. PHOTO: STAR