Monday, May 6, 2013

How Many Peoples Have Actually Died During Islamist Outbreak in Dhaka?



1. Dhaka evicts protest leader as death toll hits 32




















Bangladeshi police broke up a protest by tens of thousands of religious hard-liners and shut down an Islamist television station yesterday after 32 people died in some of the fiercest street violence for decades.
Hundreds more people were reported injured in running battles as riot police broke up the rally near a key commercial district in a pre-dawn raid.
Dozens of demonstrators were also arrested, while the leader of the protests was put on a plane to the second city Chittagong.
Hundreds of bankers, insurance officials and stock market traders had to sleep in their offices as the sound of gunfire echoed around the Motijheel Commercial Area through much of the night.
Shops and vehicles were set alight while the roads were littered with rocks that protesters had thrown at police, witnesses said.
Police said they used sound grenades, water cannon, tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse at least 70,000 Islamists who were camped at Motijheel as part of a push for a new blasphemy law.
“We were forced to act after they unlawfully continued their gathering at Motijheel. They attacked us with bricks, stones, rods and bamboo sticks,” Dhaka police spokesman Masudur Rahman said.
The protesters dispersed early Monday, he added.
Mozammel Haq, a police inspector at Dhaka Medical College Hospital, told AFP that 11 bodies were brought to the clinic, including a policeman who had been hacked in the head with machetes.
A total of 21 other people were killed in the protests, according to an AFP toll compiled through police and medical officials.
This included eight people killed in the Kanchpur district on the southeastern outskirts of Dhaka, said the sources.
At least two people were known to have been killed in the southern coastal district of Bagerhat where police exchanged gunfire with several thousand Islamists, police spokesman Shah Alam said.
A pro-Islamist television channel, which broadcast live footage of the raid on Motijheel was meanwhile forced off the air in a dawn raid.
Diganta Television’s chief reporter M. Kamruzzaman said around 25 plain-clothed policemen and an official from the broadcast commission had entered their studios without warning.
The violence erupted Sunday afternoon after police tried to disperse tens of thousands of Islamists who had blocked major highways in Dhaka.
The protests had been instigated by Allama Shah Ahmad Shafi, the leader of Hefajat-e-Islam who is said to be around 90 years old.
Police managed to persuade Shafi on Monday to leave his madrassa in Dhaka, escorting him to the airport from where he was to be flown to Chittagong.
In a sign of their desire to avoid inflaming tensions, police insisted he had not been arrested but was leaving of his own volition.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has ruled out a new blasphemy law, insisting she will not cave into the demands of hard-liners who have been infuriated by bloggers whom they accuse of insulting the Prophet Muhammad.
Chanting “One point, One demand: Atheists must be hanged,” activists from Hefajat-e-Islam marched along at least six highways on Sunday, effectively cutting Dhaka off from the rest of the country.
Police said the number of protesters reached around 200,000 people at one point although the numbers had dwindled by the early hours.
Social media networks were inundated with photos of bloodied Islamists lying on the streets after the crackdown.
The main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, which had given its backing to Hefajat’s Dhaka blockade, on Monday accused the government of “killing hundreds of people and concealing the bodies” but gave no proof.
Fearing further violence, Dhaka police Monday banned all protests as well as the carrying of firearms until midnight.
Bangladesh, an officially secular country with a 90 percent Muslim population, has seen a surge in violence between Islamists and government forces since the start of the year, when a court began handing down war crimes verdicts related to the 1971 independence conflict.
Three leading Islamists have so far been convicted for their role in mass killings during the conflict, which saw what was then East Pakistan break from the regime in Islamabad.
The overall death toll in violence between religious hard-liners and the police since January now stands at around 150.





2. Bangladesh rallies leave at least 20 people dead


Police have banned all rallies in Bangladesh's capital for the rest of the day after at least 20 people died in clashes between police and large numbers of Islamic hardliners demanding that the government enact an anti-blasphemy law, officials said.
A police official said 13 people, including two police officers and a paramilitary soldier, were killed in clashes in Kanchpur just outside Dhaka. He said seven others died in Motijheel, a commercial area of the capital.
The protesters blocked roads with burning tyres and logs during more than five hours of clashes. They also attacked a police station and set fire to at least 30 vehicles, including police trucks, Ekattar TV reported.
The United News of Bangladesh reported that the violence erupted after security forces fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters in the central commercial district.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police said in a statement that all rallies and protests had been banned in the city until midnight for fear of more clashes.
The Islamic activists have been holding protests to demand that the government implement an anti-blasphemy law. The government of the Muslim-majority nation has rejected the demand, insisting that Bangladesh is governed by secular law.
On Sunday, police fired rubber bullets to disperse stone-throwing activists who were among thousands who rallied around Dhaka. Officials said at least one person died and 45 others were injured.
The ruling Awami League and an opposition alliance had both planned rallies later in response to Sunday's violence but postponed their plans.
Bangladesh, an impoverished nation of 160 million people, has a history of political violence.
The opposition has sponsored a series of recent general strikes demanding that the next general election due in early 2014 be supervised by a neutral caretaker administration.




3. Bangladesh Protests Calling For Stricter Islamic Laws Leave 15 Dead And 50 Injured


UPDATE: According to Reuters, two policemen and a member of a paramilitary force were among those killed in Sunday's clashes.

Clashes in the capital of Bangladesh have left at least 15 people dead and more than 50 injured after Islamic protesters fought running battles with police. Violence broke out in Dhaka on Sunday with officers forced to use stun grenades to break up a rally by the group Hefazat-e Islam. The clashes have continued into Monday across the city.
According to police, more than 200,000 protesters marched the city centre to demand the government take a more Islamic stance on domestic policy. Many of the protesters had come into Dhaka from rural villages, making their way to the city's largest mosque. However, the gathering quickly turned into a riot as shops and cars were set alight, governments building were attacked and police officers were targeted. Clashes outside the mosque saw police react to stone throwing with tear gas and rubber bullets fired from armoured vehicles.
According to the AFP, the protesters were heard chanting: "One point, one demand, atheists must be hanged." Sky News reported a protester, saying: "This government does not have faith in Allah. This is an atheist government; we will not allow them to live in Bangladesh. Muslims are brothers, we must protect Islam."
bangladesh blasphemy protest
Violence erupts on the streets of Dhaka on Sunday

Hefazat-e Islam has long-campaigned for stricter Islamic laws in Bangladesh, even though those in power maintain the country is a secular democracy. The Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina recently dismissed calls for a new blasphemy law. The protesters offered a 13-point list of demands, including a pledge to Allah in the constitution, the end to gender mixing in society and mandatory Islamic education.
The police have banned any further rallies in Dhaka to prevent a repeat of the violence. Having regained control of much of the city, including the business district of Motijheel, which saw some of the fiercest clashes, police are now looking for protesters to arrest.
A police spokesman told the AFP: "We were forced to act after they unlawfully continued the gathering at Motijheel. They attacked us with bricks, stones, rods and bamboo sticks."
Bangladesh is still reeling from a recent garment factory collapse that saw more than 600 workers killed. The search for bodies in the rubble continues, with the death toll expected to finish much higher.


4. Dozens die as violence rages in Bangladesh


Bangladeshi police escort HIfazat-e-Islam movement veteran leader Allama Shah Ahmad Shafi (center) from a madrasa in Dhaka, Monday. — AFP





DHAKA — Bangladeshi police broke up a protest by tens of thousands of religious hardliners and shut down an Islamist television station Monday after 36 people died in some of the fiercest street violence for decades.
Hundreds more people were reported injured in running battles as riot police broke up the rally near a key commercial district in a pre-dawn raid.
Dozens of demonstrators were also arrested, while the leader of the protests was put on a plane to the second city Chittagong.
Hundreds of bankers, insurance officials and stock market traders had to sleep in their offices as the sound of gunfire echoed around the Motijheel Commercial Area through much of the night.
Shops and vehicles were set alight while the roads were littered with rocks that protestors had thrown at police, witnesses said.
Police said they used sound grenades, water cannon, tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse at least 70,000 Islamists who were camped at Motijheel as part of a push for a new blasphemy law.
“We were forced to act after they unlawfully continued their gathering at Motijheel. They attacked us with bricks, stones, rods and bamboo sticks,” Dhaka police spokesman Masudur Rahman told AFP.
The protesters dispersed early Monday, he added.
Mozammel Haq, a police inspector at Dhaka Medical College Hospital, told AFP that 11 bodies were brought to the clinic, including a policeman who had been hacked in the head with machetes.
A total of 21 other people were killed in the protests, according to an AFP toll compiled through police and medical officials.
This included eight people killed in the Kanchpur district on the southeastern outskirts of Dhaka, said the sources.
At least two people were known to have been killed in the southern coastal district of Bagerhat where police exchanged gunfire with several thousand Islamists, police spokesman Shah Alam told AFP.
A pro-Islamist television channel which broadcast live footage of the raid on Motijheel was meanwhile forced off the air in a dawn raid.
Diganta Television’s chief reporter M. Kamruzzaman said around 25 plain-clothed policemen and an official from the broadcast commission had entered their studios without warning.
The violence erupted Sunday afternoon after police tried to disperse tens of thousands of Islamists who had blocked major highways in Dhaka.
The protests had been instigated by Allama Shah Ahmad Shafi, the leader of Hifazat-e-Islam who is said to be around 90 years old.
Police managed to persuade Shafi on Monday to leave his madrasa in Dhaka, escorting him to the airport from where he was to be flown to Chittagong.
In a sign of their desire to avoid inflaming tensions, police insisted he had not been arrested but was leaving of his own volition.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has ruled out a new blasphemy law, insisting she will not cave into the demands of hardliners who have been infuriated by bloggers whom they accuse of insulting the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
Chanting “One point, One demand: Atheists must be hanged”, activists from HIfaZat-e-Islam marched along at least six highways on Sunday, effectively cutting Dhaka off from the rest of the country.

Police said the number of protesters reached around 200,000 people at one point although the numbers had dwindled by the early hours. — AFP



5. 28 dead as Bangladesh Islamists demand blasphemy law

At least 28 people have died in street battles between Bangladeshi police and tens of thousands of Islamists, officials said Monday, deepening the divide between the secular government and religious hardliners. In some of the fiercest violence to rock the capital since independence four decades ago,
hundreds more people were reported to have been injured as riot police broke up a mass rally near a key commercial district.

Hundreds of bankers, insurance officials and stock traders had to sleep in their offices as the sound of gunfire echoed around the Motijheel Commercial Area through much of the night.
Witnesses said shops were torched while trees had been torn down and thousands of rocks littered the ground.
Police told AFP they now had the situation under control in the city centre but further violence had broken out in other parts of Dhaka. The main Islamist group behind the protests said the death toll was much higher.
Police said they used sound grenades, water cannon, tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse at least 70,000 Islamists who were camped at Motijheel as part of a push for a new blasphemy law.
"We were forced to act after they unlawfully continued their gathering at Motijheel. They attacked us with bricks, stones, rods and bamboo sticks," Dhaka police spokesman Masudur Rahman told AFP.
The protesters dispersed early Monday, he added.
Mozammel Haq, a police inspector at Dhaka Medical College Hospital, told AFP that 11 bodies were brought to the clinic. One victim was a policeman who had been hacked in the head by protesters with machetes, Haq said.
Eleven other bodies were taken to three other clinics. Hospital officials said hundreds of people were injured.
There was also deadly violence at Kanchpur on the southeastern outskirts of the capital. More than 5,000 Islamists clashed with police and border guards, prompting security forces to respond with live rounds, local police chief Abdul Matin told AFP.
At least six people were killed there including three policemen and a border guard, police official Rezaul Karim told AFP. "They were beaten to death," he said.
The violence erupted Sunday afternoon after tens of thousands of Islamists demanding a new blasphemy law blocked highways and fought running battles with police.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has ruled out a new law, insisting she will not cave into the demands of hardliners who have been infuriated by bloggers whom they accuse of insulting the Prophet Mohammed.
Chanting "Allahu Akbar!" ("God is greatest!") and "One point, One demand: Atheists must be hanged", activists from the hardline Hefajat-e-Islam marched along at least six highways, blocking traffic between Dhaka and other cities.
Police said the number of protesters reached around 200,000 people at one point although the numbers had dwindled by the early hours.
Maolana Muin Uddin Ruhi, a spokesman for Hefajat-e-Islam, said the death toll from the violence across Dhaka was much higher than that given by police but gave no exact figure.
"Police shot live rounds indiscriminately at our unarmed protesters. Thousands of people were also injured," he told AFP.
Fearing further violence, Dhaka police Monday banned all protests, marches and mass gatherings as well as the carrying of firearms until midnight.
Bangladesh, an officially secular country with a 90% Muslim population, has seen a surge in violence between Islamists and government forces since the start of the year when a court began handing down war crimes verdicts related to the 1971 independence conflict.
Three leading Islamists have so far been convicted for their role in mass killings during the conflict, which saw what was then East Pakistan break from the regime in Islamabad.
The overall death toll in violence between religious hardliners and the police since January now stands at more than 140.



 6. Violence in Bangladesh as Islamists demand stricter blasphemy law


Bangladeshi activists from Hefatjat-e-Islam, a newly formed group, set a police jeep on fire during a protest in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Sunday, May 5, 2013. Police in Bangladesh's capital fired rubber bullets to disperse stone-throwing Islamic activists Sunday during a protest to demand that the government enact an anti-blasphemy law. Photo - AP/PTI

Dhaka: Violence gripped the Bangladeshi capital on Sunday as thousands of Islamists chanting 'Allahu Akbar' and demanding a tougher blasphemy law enforced a road blockade and clashed with police leaving at least one person dead and scores injured.

Witnesses said the Purana Paltan area at the heart of the capital and downtown Dhaka saw the worst violence where activists using brickbats, stones and crude bombs clashed with riot police who retaliated with hundreds of rubber bullets and tear gas canisters.

"One transport worker was declared dead after being caught in the crossfire at Gulistan area (and) several dozens of Hefazat activists and ordinary pedestrians are being treated for injuries," a doctor at the main state-run Dhaka Medical College Hospital said.

Police said several of their men were wounded as the activists of the newly-floated Hefazat-e-Islam attacked them prompting them to retaliate with the help of armoured personnel carriers.

The Islamists marched down at least six highways and took position at the entry points of the city, stopping road transport and cutting off Dhaka's road links with rest of the country while raising slogans of 'Allah-u-Akbar!' (God is the greatest!) and "One point, One demand: Atheists must be hanged".

Hefazat-e-Islam or 'Protectorate of Islam' enforced their 'Dhaka siege' programme to mount pressure on the moderate Awami League-led government to implement their 13-point demand including the enactment of a blasphemy law to punish those who insult Islam and the Prophet.

The group earlier planned to lay a peaceful siege allowing vehicle movement inside the city but later decided to stage a rally at Motijheel area when police granted them permission on condition that they would not turn violent.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in a press conference on Friday urged the radical group to call off the their planned demonstration saying laws already existed to punish blasphemers and being a pious Muslim herself she would not allow Islam or the Prophet to be insulted by anyone.

She also agreed to introduce tougher provisions in the existing laws to punish blasphemers but urged the radicals to be considerate about the country's moderate culture and heritage saying these did not conflict with Islamic teachings.

News Link: Violence in Bangladesh as Islamists demand stricter blasphemy law



7. 11; not 3,000


11; not 3,000
Trashing the claim of 800 to 3,000 casualties, Dhaka Metropolitan Police yesterday said 11 people, including a policeman, died during Hefajat’s rampage and the law enforcers’ operation to flush them out of Motijheel between Sunday and early Monday.
The DMP’s statement comes on the heels of a propaganda campaign on different platforms, especially social networking websites like Facebook, that law enforcers killed up to 3,000 Hefajat men during the operation.
“Where did they get that so many people were killed there?” DMP Commissioner Benazir Ahmed asked, referring to the propaganda campaigners.
A vested quarter had been spreading the rumour, he said at a press briefing at the DMP Media Centre in the capital.
If so many people had died during the day-long clashes and the operation, their parents, siblings or relatives would have come looking for them, he said.
“But none has come unlike the case of Rana Plaza collapse in Savar.”
Visiting 13 hospitals in the capital, The Daily Star gathered that bodies of 13 people, including a policeman’s, were taken to Dhaka Medical College Hospital and Sir Salimullah Medical College Hospital between Sunday and early Monday.
The DMP chief also dismissed the rumour that the law enforcers who took part in the drive fell ill.
Justifying the operation, Benazir said the DMP had intelligence that Hefajat men would attack the secretariat, Bangladesh Bank, other banks and shopping centres if they could stay put at Motijheel till morning.
“They had plans to loot the banks.”
He said a decision was made to use only non-lethal weapons to avoid casualty. And eventually, the law enforcers were able to limit the casualty to a small number.
Before carrying out the operation, the law enforcers urged the demonstrators over loudspeakers to leave Shapla Chattar around 1:00am on Monday.
As they paid no heed to the call, the law enforcers launched the operation from the directions of Notre Dame College and Dainik Bangla intersection, keeping the roads on the east and south side open to allow them to leave the area.
“During the 10-minute drive, we used non-lethal weapons and logistics — water cannons, and sound, gas and smoke grenades, and rubber bullets.”
The operation was carried out in the dead of the night so that commuters or pedestrians come to no harm, he said.
“Extra caution was taken considering that many orphan madrasa students were taken to the rally.”
Police found four bodies wrapped in cloths near the stage of Hefajat rally, three at different points of the rally venue, three more of pedestrians and one of a policeman on Sunday and early Monday, he said.
On rumours that they hid bodies, he said, “Two TV channels aired the drive live. Many reporters were there. City residents from rooftop watched it and took photos with their cell phones.”
“How was it possible to hide bodies?” he questioned.
Asked why they allowed Hefajat to hold rally in the heart of the capital, he said they gave the permission out of respect to Islamic clerics, despite having intelligence that Hefajat men could create mayhem and stay there beyond the time granted.
“They are madrasa teachers and students. People respect them. They promised us many times that they would leave the capital by 5:00pm after offering prayers.”
BNP REJECTS DMP STATEMENT
Criticising DMP commissioner’s statement, BNP spokesperson Shamsuzzaman Dudu said people did not subscribe to the DMP’s version.
He also demanded a government statement on the issue immediately.
“Is it a statement of the police or someone else has imposed it on them?” he asked.
BGB BINS CLAIMS
Maj Gen Aziz Ahmed, chief of Border Guard Bangladesh, refuted the claims that hundreds or even thousands of bodies were taken to the Pilkhana BGB headquarters.
“Had even a single body been brought inside, the whole Pilkhana would have been sealed off.”
He said such claims were made to tarnish the image of the disciplined force.
THE DAILY STAR FINDINGS
Visiting 13 hospitals where bodies and injured Hefajat men were taken, The Daily Star learnt that 12 bodies were sent to the DMCH and one to Sir Salimullah Medical College morgue.
Bodies kept at the DMCH included that of a policeman, a shop employee and a bus helper. The rest were of Hefajat activists’.
In the meantime, Baraka General Hospital Ltd in capital’s Rajarbagh claimed it received six bodies but declined to give any details.
Islami Bank Central Hospital at Kakrail claimed three bodies were brought to the hospital but it couldn’t substantiate the claim.
News Link: 11; not 3,000