Vol. 5 Num 817 Wed. September 13, 2006  
Front Page

Opposition's PMO Siege Programme
Cops go wild on marchers
Scores including Nasim, Noor badly injured

Police brutally clubbed senior leaders, lawmakers and activists of Awami League-led 14-party opposition combine in Dhaka yesterday to foil their siege of Prime Minister's Office (PMO), injuring over 150 including former home minister Mohammad Nasim and Asaduzzaman Noor MP.

Besides their marauding action at Banglamotor, Dhanmondi and Agargaon, the tough-looking policemen mercilessly beat up opposition's female activists entering a house and a clinic at Dhanmondi 27 injuring at least 20.

The opposition activists failed to go near the PMO as some parts of the city, including the PMO, were literally besieged by law enforcers upon government instruction to jeopardise the opposition programme.

Police sources said Deputy Commissioner of Police Kohinoor Miah ordered for the action at Dhanmondi.

The government had imposed a ban on all kinds of gathering and rallies in the adjoined areas of the PMO on Sunday to thwart the opposition programme. It instructed the law enforcers for tough action against the 14-party demonstrators yesterday, if needed.

Over 10,000 police, paramilitary Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) and Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) men encircled an area of several square kilometres around the PMO.

The opposition combine declared the siege programme to force the BNP-led four-party coalition to accept reforms in the caretaker government and Election Commission (EC).

Earlier on September 6 also, the police foiled the opposition's attempt to approach the vicinity of the EC Secretariat by firing teargas shells and charging batons indiscriminately, leaving over 100 opposition men, including opposition leader Sheikh Hasina's Political Secretary Saber Hossain Chowdhury, critically injured.

Riot police clubbed senior opposition leaders and workers brutally at Dhanmondi 27 intersection leaving at least 100, including Mohammad Nasim, SM Kamal and Ajoy Kar Khokon and a number of female activists, injured.

Nasim and other critically injured opposition activists were admitted to Bangladesh Medical College Hospital (BMCH).

The police also beat up ATN Bangla cameraman Kabirul Islam Pintu and Tara Bangla reporter Soma Islam.

Ten policemen were also injured during the clashes.

Asked about the police action at Dhanmondi, Officer-in-Charge of New Market Police Station Saifur Rahman Babul told journalists, "You have no right to know why police beat up opposition leaders and journalists. I know nothing and I will not say anything in this regard."

Several thousand opposition demonstrators demanding immediate implementation of the electoral reforms started marching towards the PMO from Russell Square in Dhanmondi. But they were intercepted as the police put up barbed-wire barricades at the Dhanmondi 27 intersection.

"Do not try to break the police barricade. Please leave the place and observe your programme peacefully," police told the opposition men, reminding that there was a ban on processions and gatherings.

As some demonstrators tried to break the barricades and hit the police with sticks, the law enforcers chased them. The opposition activists pelted brickbats at the police who then charged batons and dispersed the demonstrators.

While police were chasing the opposition workers, Awami League (AL) leader Mohammad Nasim along with around 50 opposition activists were standing near the Dhanmondi 27 intersection.

Seeing opposition leaders and workers encircling Nasim, about 200 police indiscriminately charged baton on them. Nasim and others lay down on the street, but the police became more ferocious and beat them with sticks and kicked them.

Another group of police charged batons mercilessly on the opposition's female activists a few yards off the spot, inuring 10.

The dispersed demonstrators took shelter in different by-lanes and fought pitched battles with the policemen who fired around 50 teargas shells.

The police charged batons indiscriminately on some female workers taking shelter in a by-lane. They even entered a house and a clinic and beat up the female workers mercilessly, injuring at least 20 others.

The angry opposition activists at one stage pelted brickbats and chased the police. Additional police force rushed to the spot and chased the opposition men.

The law enforcers stormed into Nasim's residence, where many opposition activists took shelter, and damaged the security guard's room.

Before its attempt to march towards the PMO, the opposition alliance held a rally at Dhanmondi vowing to resist the upcoming parliamentary election without electoral reforms.

Doctors at the BMCH said around 100 opposition workers and leaders went to the hospital to take treatment after the clashes.

A total of 36 severely injured opposition men, including Nasim, Ajoy Kar and SM Kamal, were admitted to BMCH.

Condition of Nasim who was admitted unconscious was critical, said Prof Abdur Rauf Sarder. "But we cannot say anything definitely about the state of Mohammad Nasim before 24-hour observation," he said. Nasim received injuries all over his body, including on the hands, legs and head, he added.

AL General Secretary Abdul Jalil, Organising Secretary Abdul Mannan and other senior leaders and hundreds of activists rushed to the BMCH to see Nasim and other injured.

An AL Parliamentary Party (ALPP) procession comprising 13 AL lawmakers led by opposition Chief Whip Abdus Shaheed and Col (Retd) Farook Khan brought out a procession from the NAM building.

The police intercepted the procession thrice before it reached the Bijoy Sarani intersection. The AL lawmakers held a rally there.

Police clubbed the leaders and activists of 14-party alliance at Bangla Motor intersection area during their peaceful rally at around 12:30pm.

The police assaulted and injured at least 50 demonstrators including AL leaders Asaduzzaman Nur MP and Mobashwer Ali, president of city (north) Awami Swechchhasebak League.

Police attacked and drove the demonstrators away from the rallies in Bangla Motor, Sonargaon road and Eskaton areas.

A group of demonstrators put up a little resistance by pelting brickbats at the police but soon gave in to police might and dispersed.

AL Presidium Member Matia Chowdhury, speaking from a makeshift stage aboard a truck bed, said the people would retaliate with a vengeance for all the bloodshed caused by the police.

Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury Maya, general secretary of Dhaka City Awami League, presided over the rally.

Agargaon area turned volatile after some demonstrators hurled four homemade bombs at around 12:45pm toward the police positioned in front of IDB Bhaban.

Riot police charged in and chased the opposition activists away. The activists answered with brickbats.

At least five AL activists were injured during this clash.

Two AL leaders fell off the truck that was carrying them and suffered injuries as the police was chasing them.

The retreating opposition activists moved towards Mirpur vandalised a taxicab and set fires at several spots on Rokeya Sarani stretching from Agargaon to Mirpur 10.

Police picked up nine activists from the spot including a ward commissioner Shahida Tarique Dipti, Sajedur Rahman Russel, Farook, Luna, Shahnaj Hossain, Zinat, Nasrin, Aina Moti and Kulsum.

Earlier, several thousand leaders and activists gathered at Mirpur Section 10 roundabout with processions from different areas of Mirpur.

From there, a procession moved forward on Rokeya Sarani at 11:00am towards the Prime Minister's Office.

As the procession reached Agargaon crossing, some demonstrators pelted stones on the police.

Leaders in the procession restrained their activists while the police requested all to remain calm over loudspeakers.

Later, AL held a rally in the area.

Police filed two cases -- one for assaulting the police and the other for throwing bombs under the Explosive Substances Act -- against 22 AL leaders and activists including former lawmaker Kamal Ahmed Majumder and Shahida Tarique Dipti.

Situation at Mohakhali was relatively peaceful except a number of cracker blasts at 1:00pm right after the conclusion of a rally organised by the 14-party opposition combine amidst heavy police presence.

Separate processions led by AL leader Tofail Ahmed and advocate Sahara Khatun from the Titumir College area reached at the eastern side of the railway crossing at Mohakhali intersection at 11:00am where police already put up barbwire barricades to block them.

The demonstrators there grew stronger as more processions joined them, but they did not succeed to remove the police barricade.

The leaders refrained their activists from further attempts and held a rally there. Speakers, presided over by Rashed Khan Menon, spoke from a makeshift podium built on a truck bed.

Dr Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir, Subid Ali Bhuiyan, Zahid Hasan Russell MP, AKM Rahmatullah and MA Baker spoke at the rally.

Tofail Ahmed threatened the government with indefinite strikes from October 28 if Justice KM Hasan is allowed to be the chief of the caretaker government and Chief Election Commissioner MA Aziz continues with the electoral process.

Two crackers went off after Tofail and other leaders got down from the podium instructing their followers to march towards the PMO.

Demonstrators started to hurl brickbats at the police and police pushed them towards the Mohakhali Bus Terminal area.

Three more crackers went off one after another when Tofail and other leaders reached near Mohakhali-Gulshan link road with a procession.

The opposition combine held an urgent meeting at its coordinator Abdul Jalil's residence with Tofail Ahmed in the chair last night.

The meeting announced demonstration programmes at Chalk Bazar and Bangabandhu Avenue today and at eight electoral constituencies in the capital tomorrow.

Jalil, also the General Secretary of AL, demanded immediate removal of police DC Kohinoor Miah and accused him for masterminding the carnage during the PMO and EC siege programmes.

Police onslaught on Awami League activists who were trying to protect AL lawmaker Mohammad Nasim from the law enforcers' wrath by lying down on him on Dhanmondi Road-27 in the capital during the opposition's Prime Minister's Office siege programme yesterday. PHOTO: STAR