The supporters of BNP’s Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) mayoral candidate Ishraque Hossain engaged in a clash with Awami League activists during electioneering in the city’s Gopibagh area on Sunday.
The clash that lasted for around 30 minutes left around 15 people, including a photojournalist of Somoy Television, injured.
Witnesses said the supporters of Awami League-backed councilor candidate Rokonuddin Ahmed and reserved women councillor candidate Lovely Chowdhury took position on a road near the main gate of Central Women’s College while Ishraque along with his supporters was moving to the area in a procession around 12:50pm.
Both sides raised slogans against each other and locked into an altercation.
At one stage, they attacked each other by throwing brickbats and chairs at each other.
The two sides fought a pitched battle until police intervened and brought the situation under control. The sounds of several blank shots were heard during the fight.
Duty officer of Wari Police Station Shila Akhter said they sent their force immediately after receiving information about the clash through a phone call on 999.
During the melee, Ishraque took shelter at his Gopibagh’s residence.
Talking to reporters, Ishraque later said ruling party men attacked them as part of their move to foil the elections.
The BNP candidate said he along with his supporters was peacefully returning to his Gopibagh house from Hatkhola via Tikatuli, but they were attacked suddenly from an under-construction building where there is an election camp of an Awami League councillor.
Ishraque’s follower Mamun said they sent about 14 injured BNP activists to different hospitals for treatment.
Besides, Somoy Television’s photojournalist Ashraful Islam was also injured in the clash.
AL councillor candidate Rokonuddin Ahmed alleged that Ishraque’s supporters attacked his election camp without any provocation, leaving his some activists injured.
He also claimed that BNP activists also fired eight rounds of bullets towards them, an allegation turned down by Ishraque.
At a press conference at his house, Ishraque said, “They (AL supporters) attacked us and fired shots at us. We think they’re trying to shift blame onto us by carrying out the attack which people won’t accept and believe.”
He also alleged that the OC of Wari Police Station is playing a biased role.
Ishraque said they informed police about their scheduled programme, but they did not take any step for ensuring their security.
He said the ruling party launched the attack as part of their evil efforts to spread panic among voters.
Ishraque urged his supporters to remain calm and not to be worried over the election atmosphere. “I call upon voters not to get confused. You will go to polling stations and cast your votes.”
The BNP candidate said he will file a case in connection with the incident since his many supporters were injured in it.
Last week, BNP’s mayoral candidate of Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) Tabith Awal was also attacked during electioneering at Gabtoli. BNP activists accused ruling Awami League-backed councilor candidate of carrying out the attack.
Awami League mayoral candidate for Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) Atiqul Islam on Sunday promised to build a “modern, dynamic and healthy” Dhaka if he is reelected.
He spoke about his three-dimensional plan while unveiling the election manifesto at a press conference at Lakeshore Hotel in the morning.
“My priority is not only to build a city for better living but also to work for developing the citizens’ lifestyle,” he said.
“I’ll make DNCC modern, dynamic, healthy if reelected,” Atiqul said, adding that he will utilise his experiences of the last nine months as DNCC mayor.
He promised to ensure safety of the citizens, and ample grounds and parks for games and sports. “I want our next generation to grow up healthy,” he added.
Atiqul also promised that he will take effective steps to curb corruption in different sectors.
He was elected mayor of DNCC in February 28, 2019 by-polls on an Awami League ticket.
The post fell vacant after Annisul Huq passed away on November 30, 2017. The last mayoral election was held on April 28, 2015.
The BNP’s Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) mayoral candidate Ishraque Hossain on Saturday called upon voters in general and his supporters in particular to turn the other cheek in the face of any provocation till the election is over and victory is achieved.
“Next week is our final test. You all will go to the centres to cast your votes on February 1. We must achieve the result that began with the upsurge in support for dhaner shish (sheaf of paddy - the BNP’s electoral symbol). So I urge you all, voters and supporters, not to respond to any provocative activities,” Ishraque said, while campaigning in Old Dhaka’s Bangshal area.
Ishraque also urged his supporters not to fear anyone. “We are with you in the field. We will oust the dictator with the country’s people. So don’t fear anyone,” he promised.
After offering Asr prayers at a local mosque, Ishraque distributed leaflets among shopkeepers, pedestrians and residents of different areas of Old Dhaka and solicited votes for dhaner shish.
Later, Ishraque exchanged views with the Hindu community at Dhakeshwari National Temple in the evening.
“The BNP gave a new dimension to democracy through establishing the caretaker government in 1996 here. But the ruling government killed democracy cancelling the system. The people will establish democracy again in the country starting with voting for BNP in the city polls,” he also said.
Ishraque said he will draw up a masterplan for the next 100 years to build a developed Dhaka city if he is elected in the polls.
Juba Dal general secretary Sultan Salauddin Tuku, Bangladesh Labour Party Chairman Dr Mustafizur Rahman Iran, councillor candidates, and BNP’s leaders and activists accompanied Ishraque all the way.
BNP senior leader Moudud Ahmed alleged that Bangladesh is now under the grip of one-party Baksal rule like that of 1975.
“What’s now going on in this country is a one-party rule like in 1975. Now there’s no politics in the country as in 1975. There’s also no effective parliament, the rule of law, freedom of press and independence of the judiciary like that period,” he said.
The BNP leader further said, “One-party rule had been introduced in 1975 formally by amending the constitution and the same system has been put in operation informally in a planned way. They (AL) established dictatorship and fascism undercover of democracy, and destroyed the spirit of the Liberation War.”
Moudud, a BNP standing committee member, came up with the allegation at a press conference at BNP chairperson’s Gulshan office arranged by the party on the day of introduction of one-party Baksal rule through the fourth amendment to the constitution in 1975.
He said there is no alternative to unity among the people of all walks of life to get rid of the current situation of the country. “We think the victory of spirit of the Liberation War and democracy is inevitable.”
About the background of the fourth constitutional amendment on January 25, 1975, Moudud said the constitution amendment bill was passed on that day only by 11 minutes without any discussion and debate in parliament.
Later, he said, the then Prime Minister had taken oath as the President and gained absolute power to govern the country.
“Awami League’s senior leader Khandaker Mushtaq Ahmed with the help of some military officials took over power by killing the Father of the Nation on August 15, 1975 and enforced martial law in the country. All but four Awami League cabinet members and MPs remained there in their posts, and the same government killed the four national leaders at Dhaka Central jail,” the BNP leader said.
He said it is BNP founder Ziaur Rahman who introduced multiparty democracy ending the one-party rule to fulfill people’s hopes and aspirations and materialise their dreams.
Moudud claimed that Zia established a democratic governing system in the light of the constitution of 1972, and restored people’s basic rights, the independence of the judiciary and press freedom.
He said Awami League again restored the one-party rule indirectly after assuming office in 2009.
“This system (Baksal) is never acceptable to the people of Bangladesh. People want to get back democracy and the spirit of the Liberation War, and they entrusted BNP with the responsibility to restore those,” the BNP leader added.
BNP standing committee members Dr Abdul Moyeen Khan, Nazrul Islam Khan, Amir Khosru Mahmud Chowdhury, Selima Rahman, Iqbal Hasan Mahmud Tuku, vice chairmen Abdullah Al Noman, and Barkatullah Bulu were, among others, present.
BNP senior leader Amir Khosru Mahmud Chowdhury on Saturday said people are eagerly waiting for casting their votes for the ‘Sheaf of Paddy’ in the elections to Dhaka north and south city corporations.
"Dhaka city dwellers have decided to vote for the Sheaf of Paddy on February 1. They’re now keenly waiting for casting their votes,” he said.
Amir Khasru, a BNP standing committee member, came up with the remarks while speaking at a discussion arranged by Bangladesh Democratic Council at Dhaka Reporters' Unity.
He urged people to go to polling stations braving all the barriers to give the ruling party a fitting reply through their votes against its ‘misdeeds’.
“They (AL) will be defeated if we can go out in the field with courage. We must wake up to oust them. So, get ready to play a strong role on February 1,” the BNP leader said pointing at their party leaders and activists.
He said people are questioning the justification of their party’s decision of joining the city polls as the government is trying to ‘force’ all the state machinery and officials to ensure the ruling party’s victory.
“We’ve taken part in the polls so that people can use their scope of casting votes. We know as the entire world does what is happening in our country. But we don’t want to deprive people of their option (of exercising their right to franchise),” Khosru added.
He said people do not get any interest in going to polling stations if BNP does not remain there in the polls.