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Security beefed up across country

Published : 15 Oct 2021 11:22 PM | Updated : 16 Oct 2021 01:12 PM

Security measures have been beefed up as there were stray incidents of violence at different places including the capital city of Dhaka during the Durga puja celebration on Thursday and Friday.

The Muslim devotees prayed to Allah on Friday seeking communal harmony and peace in the country.

But to the consternation of people, devotees clashed with the police at Kakrail after they had brought out a procession from the Baitul Mukarram Mosque area on Friday.

Meanwhile, attack on a Chattogram puja mandap prompted the Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council to call for a half-day hartal in the port city for today (Saturday).

Earlier on the day, an agitated mob allegedly attacked a puja mandap.

Witnesses said hundreds of people marched from the National Mosque Baitul Mukarram under the banner of ‘Malibagh Muslim Youth Society’ after Friday prayers chanting  various slogans.. 

The procession marched through the Paltan crossing and Bijoynagar intersection, and proceeded towards Kakrail Nightingale crossing.

As police tried to intercept the procession at the Nightingale crossing, they threw brickbats towards the law enforcers.

Police also charged batons and lobbed teargas shells triggering a chase-and-counter-chase between the devotees and the cops.

As the clash spilled over to Bijoynagar crossing, police used water cannons and fired blank shots. They brought the situation under control at about 2:10pm. 

Traffic on the roads in the areas came to a complete halt during the clash.  

The two sides were engaged in clash for about half an hour and chased each other. At least seven people, including five policemen, were injured. Two injured protesters were admitted to Dhaka Medical College Hospital. Bayazidur Rahman, assistant commissioner of police in Ramna zone, said five policemen, including himself, were injured.

Mohammad Abdul Ahad, Deputy Commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (Motijheel zone) said, three people were arrested and taken to Paltan Police Station during the clash. 

On the other hand, a group of worshippers allegedly attempted to damage the puja venue gate at JM Sen Hall in Chattogram. They threw brickbats and tore down festival banners after finishing Jummah prayers at Andarkilla Shahi Mosque in the port city on Friday.

The leaders of the council, who had organised the puja celebration at JM Sen Hall, declared that they would not perform the last ritual of the puja -- immersion of the image of godess Durga to end the festival unless security is not ensured.

“Immersion begins from 11 am every year. But the government directed us to get out of the pavilion after 2:30 pm this time due to the Friday prayers,” said Ashish Bhattachariya, president of Chattogram Metropolitan Puja Celebration Council.

“We were waiting inside the pandal and carrying out religious formalities when the attack took place.”

“Is there any assurance of safety in the streets when our pavillions are being attacked?” he said.

Following the Jummah prayers, a group of people held a meeting at the gate of Andarkilla Shahi Mosque and then marched towards JM Sen Hall in a procession, according to eyewitnesses.

The procession broke through police barricades at the intersection and then attempted to damage the locked gate of JM Sen Hall. Then they proceeded to throw brickbats that ripped through puja banners on the walls.

The police then fired teargas shells to disperse the mob, who eventually fled the place.

The puja celebration committee members of JM Sen Hall then took position on the street, obstructing traffic.

 Around 3 pm, Advocate Rana Dasgupta arrived at the JM Sen Hall intersection and expressed solidarity with the puja celebration committee.

Law enforcers also arrested 50 people in connection with the clash, Kotwali Thana Officer-in-Charge Nezam Uddin told reporters. 

Meanwhile the procession started under the banner of 'Touhidi Janata' after Friday prayers at a mosque in Chaumohani area of Noakhali district. The processionists attacked a Puja mandap on College Road.

However, since immersion of images completed in the morning, there were no members of the Hindu community there at that time.

Later, when the protesters started attacking some shops and houses of the Hindu community, the police also went in action to control the situation.

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