Around 50 persons, including 21 policemen, were injured in a clash between BNP activists and police in Gangachra upazila of Rangpur on Thursday after the police tried to foil a rally organised by the party to mourn and protest the recent death of Shaon Pradhan, an activist of the BNP youth wing, according to the party's local activists.
BNP leaders claimed that police attacked the peaceful programme without any valid reason. At least 30 BNP activists were injured and are now undergoing treatment in different hospitals.
However, Rangpur Additional Superintendent of Police Hossain Mohammad Raihan told TBS, "What we did was just in self-defence. We asked the BNP workers to use the designated road but after going some distance they pelted brickbats at the police. At least 21 of our policemen were injured."
So far, seven activists of BNP have been arrested in connection with the clash, he added.
Meanwhile, in Rangpur city, in protest against the killing of Shaon, Juba Dal leaders and activists could not take to the streets due to obstruction by the police. Later, they held a protest rally in front of the BNP office at the Grand Hotel intersection in the city.
At noon on Thursday, Jubo Dal leaders and activists took out a protest march from the BNP office at the Grand Hotel intersection. The police stopped them when they were on their way to the main road. Jubo Dal leaders and activists had an altercation with the police. Finally, the leaders and activists held a protest rally there.
Police foil BNP's protest rally in Lakshmipur
Police on Thursday foiled the protest rally organised by the BNP in Lakshmipur.
Condemning the police action, Rezaul Karim, convenor of Lakshmipur Jubo Dal, claimed that law enforcers forcibly prevented them from observing their programme without any provocation.
In a similar vein, central BNP Publicity Secretary Shahiduddin Chowdhury Annie, who is also the district BNP convener, said, "The police obstructed our peaceful rally. It takes courage to protest. The people of Lakshmipur will not bow down to oppression."
However, Officer-in-Charge of Lakshmipur Sadar Police Station Mustafa Kamal said, "The Juba Dal did not take any permission for the rally. The procession was moving towards the market intending to create chaos. So, the police stopped them. Attempts to disrupt law and order will be strictly suppressed."
Earlier on 1 September, Jubo Dal activist Shaon Pradhan was killed and 50 people were injured in a clash that erupted between the police and BNP activists in Narayanganj after the law enforcers tried to prevent local BNP leaders and activists from holding a rally to mark the political party's 44th founding anniversary.
The BNP and its affiliated organisations have been holding marches and rallies across the country protesting the killing of Shaon for the past few days.
The Jubo Dal organised a pre-announced rally on the road in front of the BNP's central office in the capital's Nayapaltan on Sunday afternoon.
BNP to hold rallies in 16 spots in Dhaka
The BNP has decided to hold rallies at 16 spots in Dhaka North and Dhaka South from 10 September to 27 September to protest against the increase in fuel prices, public transport fares, prices of daily necessities, and load shedding as well as the killing of Chhatra Dal leader Noore Alam and Swechchhasebak Dal leader Abdur Rahim allegedly by police in Narayanganj.
Dhaka North Metro unit of the BNP sent a letter in this regard to the Dhaka Metropolitan Police Commissioner on Wednesday.
According to the BNP, over 700 party leaders and activists were arrested and about 50 cases were filed against them in August. At least 30 of its programmes were attacked by police and ruling party men.
The ruling AL has maintained that the BNP has been spreading anarchy in the name of movements.
From 22 August, the BNP held a protest programme outside Dhaka at the district, upazila and union levels. From then until last 31 August, news came of AL activists and police clashing with the BNP protesters.
From 22 to 31 August, 52 programmes of the BNP were attacked and the houses of BNP leaders and activists were attacked in 18 places. Section 144 was imposed in eight upazilas due to the counter-programmes of the two major parties, claimed BNP leaders.
BNP holds talks with Canadian Political Counsellor
BNP leaders held a meeting with Canadian Political Counsellor Bradley Coates on Thursday, a day after paying a courtesy call on the British High Commissioner to Bangladesh Robert Chatterton Dickson.
A delegation, headed by BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, participated in the two-hour long meeting at the party chairperson's office in Gulshan.
The overall situation of the country was discussed with Bradley Coates at the meeting. Coates was appointed to his Bangladesh post a month earlier, BNP Organising Secretary Shama Obaid, who was present at the meeting, told The Business Standard.
She said the Canadian diplomat inquired about the suppression the BNP leaders and activists have gone through during their nationwide programmes in the last few days and discussed the human rights situation in the country.
"BNP is strengthening its diplomatic activities ahead of the upcoming 12th parliamentary elections. We are raising the issues of attacks on BNP rallies, killing of our men and lawsuits against our leaders before the foreign diplomats in these meetings," said Shama Obaid.
"Like other political parties, our diplomatic activities are going on, which may not always be visible," she added.
The Canadian diplomat did not agree to talk to the media when asked about the meeting. ***