More than 150 people, including journalists, police and pedestrians were injured in the city on Friday as ultra-Islamists groups locked in sporadic clashes with the police, turning the Paltan area from the north gate of Baitul Mokarram to its south gate into a battlefield for more than three hours.
The agitating bigots also snatched away a loaded shotgun from a police Habildar from the south gate of the mosque during the three-hour riots.
Witnesses said the clash erupted when several hundreds of Islamist activists of Islami Ain Bastabayan Committee led by Fazlul Haque Amini, Chhatra Jamiat Bangladesh led by Maolana Muhiuddin Khan and Ahkame Sariah Hefajat Committee led by led by former Jamaat-e-Islami lawmaker Delawar Hossain Saydee and publicity secretary of the same party Taslim Ahmed under the banner of Anti-Quran Law Resistance Committee attempted to bring out a procession immediately after the Juma prayer at around 1:40pm against the recently announced National Women Development Policy amid tight security.
As police tried to resist the activists to bring out procession, the angry activists locked clashes with police indiscriminately pelting brickbats and stones on them from the North gate of the Baitul Mukarram National Mosque.
The laws enforcers charged batons, teargas canisters and rubber bullets to disperse the radical activists triggering rioting clashes, which spread at the Dainik Bangla Crossing, Paltan Crossing, North and South Gates of the national mosque and the all adjacent alleys.
The protestors divided in several groups took shelter at GPO alley hurled stones and brickbats while another group in front of the north gate continued chased and counter-chased each other during the three hours clash.
At one stage, the furious activists set ablaze at some old clothes and carpets collecting from different shops and took control of Paltan crossing to Dainik Bangla crossing. A group of protestors at south gate of the mosque swooped on police Habildar Riyad and snatched away his loaded shotgun.
Huge contingent of police from Rajarbagh Police Line rushed to the scene and swung into action clubbing the protestors and repeatedly charging rubber bullets and teargas canisters a bid to take the situation under control.
More than 10 journalists of different printing and electronic media, 40 policemen and 60 activists and pedestrian sustained critical injuries during the three hour’s long rioting clashes.
The police reinforcements by using a water canon and a riot arrived at the spot at around 2:55pm to bring the situation under control but most of the activists took shelter inside the mosque but police managed to arrested two severely injured activists from the scene.
All kinds of traffic movements were suspended on the busy Paltan road and adjacent area till 5:00pm
A high official of police preferring anonymity told New Age, ‘The police charged 312 teargas canisters, 243 rounds rubber bullet to bring the situation under control.’
‘Police arrested 10 activists from the scene while 52 policemen from different ranks sustained critical injuries during the clash,’ he added.
Deputy Commissioner of Motijheel Zone, Mazharul Islam told newsmen, ‘Police managed to recovered snatched shotgun at around 4:45pm in front of the south gate of the mosque.
The injured were admitted at Markajul Islam Hospital, Dhaka Orthopaedics Hospital and Dhaka Medical College Hospital while the injure policemen were admitted at Rajarbagh Police Line Hospital.
The duty officer of the Paltan police station said that ‘We are preparing to file cases against the Islamist activists.’
Meanwhile, the Islamic Ain Bastabain Committee amir Fazlul Haque Amini demanded resignation of women affair adviser Rasheda K Chowdhury for formulating ant-Quran rule in the name of women development policy.
The government must withdraw the anti-Quran sections from the policy, without which we will continue the protests Amini said at a press briefing at Modina office in Noakhali Tower.
Amini who also Chairman of Islami Oikya Jote said the police had attacked them without provocation.
He claimed that more than 100 workers of the Islamist outfit had been injured in the clashes.
‘We called a rally to drum up support for the anti-Quran rule, but the government is not fulfilling our demand,’ he added.
Amini threatened that the ‘fire ignited Friday would spread to every corner of the country’.
Asked about mosaic stones taken off the mosque’s wall, Amini said he was not aware of it.