In a spree of countrywide violence, Jamaat-Shibir men yesterday rampaged through the capital and 23 other districts, protesting Thursday’s execution of war criminal Abdul Quader Mollah, a top Jamaat leader.
The frenzied protests left at least eight people dead and more than 100 vehicles as well as offices, factories and houses burnt across the country.
Two deaths were reported from Satkhira and Noakhali each and one each from Khulna, Pirojpur, Jessore and Joypurhat.
Protesters blocked a 15km stretch on the Dhaka-Bogra highway, 10km on the Dhaka-Pabna and Jessore-Bagharpara highways by felling trees and digging roads. They also uprooted several plates of a steel bridge on the Cox’s Bazar-Teknaf highway, halting traffic for several hours, report our district correspondents.
Rail communications between Khulna and the rest of the country remained suspended for 17 hours as Jamaat-Shibir men put up barricades at Shingia Railway Station in Jessore.
Unruly activists hurled petrol bombs at the control room of Joydevpur Railway Junction, gutting computers, eight telephone sets and signal equipment. Nine passengers were injured in the incident.
In the capital, traffic was thin though it was not a hartal day. Many people remained indoors in fear of attacks by Jamaat-Shibir men over the hanging of Mollah.
Soon after Juma prayers, Jamaat-Shibir men in droves unleashed a reign of terror near Motijheel AGB Colony kitchen market, torching four private cars and seven motorcycles.
At least 11 people, including an 11-year-old boy, were struck when police fired rubber bullets to disperse the attackers, witnesses said.
More than 500 Jamaat-Shibir men reached the area soon after a pickup came there, carrying crude bombs and sticks around 1:40pm, locals said.
They then took crude bombs from the pickup van and began exploding them indiscriminately on the road, leaving locals and examinees of Motijheel Ideal School and College in a state of panic, witnesses said.
Police detained 14 people, two of them bullet-hit, from the spot.
In Bogra, Jamaat-Shibir men attacked the office of the executive engineer of roads and highways at Nishindjhar and vandalised and torched papers and other office stuff, police said.
Another group set fire to the Navy Company office of Akij Group and its 72 vehicles, including nine covered vans, 32 three-wheelers, four private cars, nine motorbikes and 27 mini vans.
Fire fighters controlled the blaze after an hour. Company officials said the fire damaged goods worth Tk 5 crore.
Jamaat-Shibir men enforced a blockade from Shajahanpur to Noymail area and from Mokamtola to Mohastan of Rangpur-Dhaka highway and Bogra-Noagaon roads by felling logs from Thursday afternoon.
They carried out vandalism and arson attacks yesterday at Fotkir bridge on Bogra-Dhaka highway under Shajahanpur upazila, snapping road communications in 10 northern districts.
They also torched four goods-laden trucks and vandalised a bike of a Brac official in the same area when he going to see his ailing father.
Moreover, they damaged at least 27 trucks grounded at different filling stations in the district and torched two shops of a local Awami League leader at Doshmail area, locals said.
Afzal Hossain, senior sub-assistant engineer of railways, said miscreants dug a three-foot hole under the railway in Kahaloo and Panchpir station and removed 650 clips at two locations, disrupting rail communications on the Shantahar-Lalmonirhat route via Bogra.
In Satkhira, Jamaat-Shibir activists hacked to death a local AL man in Kolaroa upazila early yesterday, while police recovered the bullet-hit body of a kindergarten student from Baladanga area in Sadar upazila hours after his abduction.
The dead are Joj Ali, 35, of Sharashkathi, and Riyad Hasan, 9, of Kuchpukur village.
Witnesses and local AL leaders alleged Jamaat-Shibir men slit Joj Ali’s throat at 3:30am, while the family members of Riyad said Jamaat-Shibir men killed him as they were involved with the AL politics.
The local Jamaat, however, denied killing the boy.
Jamaat men also vandalised, torched and looted several hundred homes and businesses belonging to Hindus and AL men across the country.
Of them, at least 50 are in Satkhira, 15 in Gaibandha, 15 in Joypurhat, 15 in Moulvibazar and 25 in Jhenidah — 12 of them totally gutted.
In addition, protesters barricaded different points on Satkhira-Jessore road between Kadamtala and Madhobkathi putting logs and trees. They also blocked different points of Patkelghata-Tala, Razrakati-Tala, Kashimnagar-Jatpur, Hajarakati-Jatpur and Shalika-Tala roads felling trees.
In Noakhali, a blockader named Khorshed Ali, 40, died of bullet injuries yesterday. He was hit when law enforcers opened fire on a group of blockaders to clear Chatkhil-Sonaimuri road at Afania in Begumganj upazila on Thursday.
Imam Uddin, a rickshaw puller, was also injured in the police firing.
Yesterday evening, a Shibir man died and five others were bullet hit in a clash with Chhatra League and Jubo League men in Sonaimuri upazila of the district. The dead is Jobair, witnesses said.
In Pirojpur, a youth was killed and at least 15 BNP-Jamaat men were injured in Zianagar upazila after an AL leader allegedly opened fire on a procession of the opposition men at Gosherhat bazar.
The dead is Sukkur Ali, 25, son of Kalaya village in the upazila.
Abdul Latif Hawlader, president of Zianagar upazila BNP, alleged Pattashi union AL president Tobarek Ali Hawlader fired five shots from inside his house when a procession was going through the area, around 11:30pm on Thursday.
Tobarek, however, denied the allegation.
In Jessore, Shibir activist Asraful Islam, 20, of Mohirun village under the upazila died as a truck being chased by the Shibir men hit a felled tree that struck him. The incident happened around 3:00am at Bolteghata on Bagharpara-Charavita road.
In Joypurhat, a freedom fighter died after he jumped out of a rickshaw being chased by Jamaat-Shibir men in Pachbibi upazila in the evening, police said.
The dead is Shamsul Alam, 62. He was critically injured as he fell hard on the street, witnesses said.
In Khulna, an 18-year-old boy, Nahid, died after police opened fire on Jamaat Shibir activists following an attack at the Nirala police outpost in the town.
Police said Jamaat men hurled petrol bombs and cocktails at the outpost, prompting the police to open fire.
In Feni, a truck helper, Selim, suffered burn injuries after arsonists set fire a cotton-laden truck in Debipur area around 7:00pm. A government office and a bank were also set afire while at least 10 vehicles were torched by Jamaat Shibir activists in the district.
In Jessore’s Natunhat, alleged Jamaat-Shibir activists ransacked a filling station owned by ruling Awami League lawmaker Sheikh Afil Uddin and set fire to two vehicles.
In Moulvibazar, Jamaat-Shibir activists vandalised the village home of Siraj Uddin, upazila chairman and president of upazila Muktijuddha Command Council around 8:00pm.
In Rajshahi, they set alight the two-storey house of the district council administrator, gutting all furniture and belongings on the ground floor. They also torched the house of Abdus Sattar, president of ward no 28 of AL.
In Narayanganj, Jamaat-Shibir activists beat up two police personnel, set fire to four vehicles and vandalised 10-12 vehicles around 11:00am at Fatullah.