Fresh clashes in Dhaka, 46 killed in Bangladesh Violence
Dhaka: Violence continued unabated in Bangladesh for the second day on Friday. as the death toll rose to at least 46 in clashes that erupted after a top leader of fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami was sentenced to death for “crimes against humanity” during the 1971 liberation war.
Fresh clashes on Friday claimed three lives in Gaibandha and Chapainawabganj districts while one policeman succumbed to his wounds sustained in on Thursday’s clashes. With violence showing no signs of abating, paramilitary border guards have been deployed across the country to beef up security and ease tension that has gripped the nation.
Violence broke out after 73-year-old Delwar Hossain Sayedee, vice-president of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), was sentenced to death by International Crimes Tribunal on Thursday. At least 42 people were killed on Thursday in rioting triggered by the death sentence to Sayedee, who was found guilty of eight counts out of 20, involving rape, mass killings and atrocities during the 1971 freedom war against Pakistan.
Meanwhile, in a major development main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) chief Khaleda Zia on Friday extended its open support to its extreme right-wing ally JI. Zia accused Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of influencing the war crimes trial. “No judge (of the war crimes tribunal) can now independently try the accused after her (Hasina’s) call asking them to be sympathetic to the demands for death sentences to the war criminals,” Zia told reporters.
JI earlier called for a 48-hour nationwide general strike from Sunday to mount pressures to thwart the trial process as Zia called an identical stoppage on Wednesday demanding resignation of the government. Sayedee was the third JI politician to be convicted by the International Crimes Tribunal since the trial of war crimes suspects, mostly belonging to the Islamist group, began three years ago.
In the first verdict of the tribunal in January, former Jamaat leader Abul Kalam Azad was sentenced to death on similar charges. Another Jamaat leader Abdul Quader Mollah was sentenced to life in February for atrocities during the war. “Our troops were deployed in 15 troubled districts in aide of civil administration… BGB (Border Guard Bangladesh) has been kept alert so it could move immediately wherever they are required,” BGB chief major General Aziz Ahmed said.
A police spokesman, meanwhile, said law enforcement agencies were on high alert as Jamaat and Sayedee’s supporters planned more protests. Meanwhile, several thousand people converged on Shahbagh intersection as the youths demanding death penalty to all war criminals started a public rally this afternoon. People from all walks of life imbued with the spirit of ’71 started to throng the Shahbagh since noon as the demonstration stepped into 25th straight day. They chanted anti-Jamaat-Shibir slogans and anti-strike slogans. –