BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia gets into her car as pro-Awami League activists go berserk and attack her motorcade at Karwan Bazar during a campaign for her party-backed mayoral hopeful in Dhaka North yesterday.
BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia’s campaign for the party-backed mayoral candidate of Dhaka North was foiled as her motorcade came under attack by pro-ruling Awami League activists at the capital’s Karwan Bazar yesterday.
Khaleda’s bullet-proof car was damaged but she escaped unhurt as the attackers — around 150 men of Jubo League, Swechchhasebak League, Shramik League and Chhatra League — showered the vehicles with brick chips and hit those with wooden sticks.
The incident took place near Karwan Bazar kitchen market around 5:45pm, leaving some 20 persons, including her personal secretary, injured. Four of them were admitted to United Hospital.
Six vehicles, including four from the motorcade, got damaged.
In the face of the attack, Khaleda left Karwan Bazar area and went to Shahzatpur under Dhaka South City Corporation. There she campaigned for the party-backed mayoral candidate of Dhaka South.
Later in the evening, the BNP-led 20-party alliance called a countrywide daylong hartal for tomorrow. The opposition combine will also stage demonstrations across the country today.
However, the Dhaka and Chittagong metropolitan areas will remain out of the purview of the agitation programmes due to the city corporation elections on April 28.
Earlier in the morning, policemen deployed for the security of the BNP chief’s residence at Gulshan were withdrawn. The seven-member police team left the area around 7:00am, Syrul Kabir Khan, a staff of the BNP chief’s media wing, told The Daily Star.
There was no police escort during Khaleda’s yesterday electioneering either.
The BNP claimed that police authority yesterday withdrawn the BNP chief’s police protection on the government’s instruction.
“Although the BNP chief is not the opposition leader [in parliament] at present, the police authorities always used to send a police van with seven police members from the Rajarbagh Police Line whenever she went outside from her residence. But no police van was send yesterday when she left her house for electioneering in the capital,” Sayrul Kabir Khan, a staff of Khaleda’s media wing told this correspondent.
Jahangir Alam Sarker, acting deputy commissioner (media), of Dhaka Metropolitan Police told The Daily Star that Khaleda’s state-provided security was indeed withdrawn.
On Sunday, over 100 ruling party men carrying sticks with black flags in three separate groups chased her motorcade and blocked roads while it was passing Rajlaxmi Complex, Rajuk Commercial Complex and North Tower in Uttara.
Yesterday, Khaleda left her Gulshan residence around 4:50pm and reached Karwan Bazar area around 5:30pm. A group of BNP men gathered in front the building of Family Planning Directorate General and started chanting slogans for Dhaka North’s BNP-favourite Tabith Awal.
Around 5:35pm, Khaleda came out from her vehicle and stood on a makeshift platform. When she took the microphone in her hand a group of AL activities began to shout at her.
Members of the Khaleda’s security force and BNP men chased the AL men. But within two minutes, the ruling party activists came back and showed black flags to Khaleda.
As Khaleda began addressing the crowd seeking vote for Tabith and asking all not to vote the AL-baked candidate, the AL men became more aggressive. They lambasted Khaleda saying she had killed innocents in last three months.
The demonstration of the AL men intensified. Khaleda’s security personnel and BNP men again chased them, triggering a running battle.
At one point, Khaleda threatened the ruling party men, saying the consequence will be worse. “I will see to you later,” she said.
At this, the pro-ruling party men started vandalising vehicles. Khaleda’s car too came under attack; it’s a right-side windowpane got cracked.
As Khaleda left the spot, the ruling party men chased the motorcade up to the rail gate near FDC.
After the incident, the pro-ruling party men brought out a procession and chanted slogans.
Around seven to eight policemen were on duty in the area. They, however, could not resist the attack.
Contacted, Mazharul Islam, officer-in-charge of Tejgaon Police Station, said a protest rally was being held at Karwan Bazar when Khaleda Zia’s motorcade reached the area. Later, a chase and counter-chase took place between them.
He, however, said he was unaware about the incident of vandalism.
Moudud in an urgent briefing at BNP’s said the planned attack on Khaleda’s motorcade was a part of government plan to assassinate the BNP chief which is the outcome of government’s fascist attitude.
He, however, said that the BNP chief will continue her electioneering in spite of Awami League criminals’ attack in association of police, in her election campaign.
“Withdrawal of police protection from in front of her residence [Khaleda] and from her motorcade prove that the attack on BNP chief was the part of government’s plan,” he said adding, “Sensing their defeat in the upcoming city corporation elections, the government is carrying out such criminal attack.