Police baton-charged and foiled a BNP protest rally in front of the National Press Club in the capital on Saturday.
The rally was jointly organised by Dhaka Metropolitan North and South units of BNP to protest the announcement regarding cancellation of former president and BNP founder Ziaur Rahman's 'Bir Uttam' state title.
This situation started deteriorating around 12:15 pm while BNP standing committee member Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain was addressing the rally.
According to witnesses, some agitated BNP leaders and activists engaged in an altercation with the police, triggering a clash between the two groups.
To disperse the rally, police personnel baton-charged and chased BNP leaders and activists, forcing them to take shelter inside the press club. The BNP activists then threw brickbats at the police, added witnesses.
Witnesses claimed that dozens of BNP activists and pedestrians were injured by the baton charging and the rally was dispersed after the beating.
Meanwhile, BNP Standing Committee Members Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain, Gayeshwar Chandra Roy, Chairperson's Advisory Council Member Amanullah Aman, central leader Shahid Uddin Chowdhury Annie and Nazim Uddin Alam also took shelter inside the press club. They came out at 12:50 pm when normalcy was restored in the streets.
BNP leaders claimed that several of their leaders and activists were injured. Engineer Ishraq Hossain, a member of the party's international affairs committee, said that police suddenly attacked their rally without provocation, injuring many, including senior party leaders.
However, Ramna Zone DC Harunur Rashid categorically denied the allegation. Describing completely different circumstances, he told reporters that the BNP had attacked the police without provocation.
Earlier, before the rally was foiled, addressing the leaders and activists, Gayeshwar Chandra Roy said, "Police will do their duty and we will do our job. If they attack, we will also hit back."
Addressing the government, BNP chairperson's advisor Amanullah Aman said, "If Ziaur Rahman's Bir Uttam title is cancelled, you will be burnt to ashes. Don't even try to carry out this decision."
Addressing Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader, senior BNP Joint Secretary general advocate Ruhul Kabir Rizvi said, "Are you trying to snatch Ziaur Rahman's title to distract public attention away from the damage caused by the Al Jazeera report? That'll be useless as millions of people have already seen it. Ziaur Rahman is an epic hero."
Presided over by Dhaka Metropolitan BNP President Habib-un-Nabi Khan Sohail, the protest rally was also attended, among others, by BNP chairperson's Advisers Abdus Salam and Habibur Rahman Habib, Juba Dal President Saiful Alam Nirab, General Secretary Sultan Salauddin Tuku, Swechchhasebak Dal General Secretary Abdul Quader Bhuiyan, Krishak Dal Member Secretary Hasan Jafir Tuhin, Chhatra Dal President Fazlur Rahman Khokon, senior vice-president enior Qazi Rawnakul Islam Shravan, General Secretary Iqbal Hossain Shyamal, Senior Joint-General Secretary Aminur Rahman Amin, and President of Juba Dal Dhaka South Rafiqul Alam Majnu.
The National Freedom Fighters Council Recently decided to cancel Ziaur Rahman's state title. At the same time, it also recommended cancellation of the state titles of Bangabandhu's self-confessed murderers Shariful Haque Dalim, Nur Chowdhury, Rashed Chowdhury and Mosleh Uddin.