By Nazrul Islam;
Dhaka – An abrupt clash between activists and police in central Dhaka has stirred comments from both ruling and opposition camps accusing each other for plotting against the next month’s parliamentary elections.
Opposition activists and police were hurt in the hour-long chase-and-counter chase, when lawmen fired teargas to disperse the crowds and the activists set fire to at least two police cars in front of the Nayapaltan headquarters of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) on Wednesday.
The incident occurred barely four days after the BNP, which remained out of parliament thanks to its boycott of the 2014 general election, decided to join the polls, scheduled for December 30 voting, under the banner of a newly formed alliance Jatiya Oikya Front led by former foreign minister Kamal Hossain.
The clash ensued when police tried to clear the road as several hundred BNP activists led by Mirza Abbas were in a procession towards the central office, where party nomination forms were on sale for the third day. Aspirants from across the country gathered there.
The scene soon turned a battle ground as the both police and activists locked in the clashes. A police officer said his teammates were attacked without provocation, and showed the highest level of patience.
But, the BNP, which demands a further delay in holding the election, smelled rat into the incident with one of its mid-level leaders coming up with counter-claim that the police carried out the attack without any provocation.
The party’s secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir along with leaders of the opposition alliance in the afternoon met Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda to press for their demands to defer the election by yet another month.
Prior to the meeting with the CEC, Fakhrul referred to the mid-noon clashes in front of his party office and accused the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of spoiling the election atmosphere.
“The government is out to spoil the electoral environment by creating such a situation,” he told reporters at Agargaon office of the election commission.
He also blamed the law enforcement agencies for the attack, asking the government to ensure an atmosphere conducive for peaceful election.
The ruling Awami League party, which is now taking interview of the aspirants after its nomination papers sale is closed, also reacted to the incident sharply.
Obaidul Quader, general secretary of the party, accused the BNP men for carrying out the attacks on policemen. It was a part of the conspiracy to foil the upcoming parliamentary election, he said while addressing a news conference at the party chief’s office in Dhanmondi.
Quader said it was a pre-planned attack led by BNP leader Mirza Abbas. “The BNP once again proved that it is a party of terrorists”, he said.