Police have arrested at least 50 people and accused BNP leader Mirza Abbas in three cases over clashes with the party’s supporters in front of its Naya Paltan headquarters in Dhaka. The charges against them in the cases started at Paltan Police Station include vandalising and torching of cars, assault on police, and obstruction to government duty, OC Mahmudul Hasan told bdnews24.com on Wednesday night.
Violence broke out in the area around 1pm when the supporters of BNP leaders Mirza Abbas and Akhtaruzzaman came to the party headquarters to collect nomination forms, a witness told bdnews24.com.
The leaders and activists pelted police with brickbats when the law enforcers tried to control the situation, police said.
They attacked two police cars and an APC van before torching the vehicles.
BNP supporters led by Standing Committee member Mirza Abbas attacked police without any provocation, Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader alleged earlier in the day.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police Commissioner Md Asaduzzaman Mia also blamed Mirza Abbas for the clashes.
“We had told him not to bring people. But he did not listen. The chaos started after he led
the procession to the area,” he said.
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In reaction to the allegation against Mirza Abbas, BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said the party would reconsider its decision on joining the polls if the cases were not withdrawn and the arrested leaders and activists not released.
The violence was a “government ploy to launch a crackdown on the BNP by blaming the party for the clashes”, he said, briefing the media after a meeting with Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda.
He also claimed the helmeted youths seen in the clashes belonged to Bangladesh Chhatra League, the ruling partys student wing.
“Weve come to know about this from unconfirmed sources. Police carried out the attack and the Helmet Gang torched cars with support of the law enforcers,” he said.
According to him, police arrested at least 60 leaders and activists of the party at Naya Paltan.
“We arent taking this (cases) lightly,” the BNP leader said.
He demanded the EC take steps for withdrawal of the cases and release of the arrested leaders and activists.
“Otherwise, we will not hesitate to reconsider our decision on joining the polls. The EC and the government will have to bear the responsibility for this,” he added.