Dhaka, Jul 29 (EFE). – Opposition activists in Bangladesh clashed with police and the ruling party supporters in the capital city of Dhaka on Saturday as they continued their agitation demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Clashes erupted in at least five entry points to Dhaka as the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) supporters attempted to hold a sit-in protest to underscore their demands ahead of the general election later this year.
“BNP had no permission to hold this protest. They closed all the points in Dhaka. As these were illegal protests, police asked them to leave. They instead attacked police, and the police responded,” Dhaka Metropolitan Police spokesperson Faruk Hossain told EFE.
Hossain confirmed clashes in Dhaka’s Nayabazar, Dholikhal, Matuail in the southeast, Gabtali in the southwest, and Uttara in the north.
He said that some BNP activists were arrested on the spot but was unable to provide a specific number.
BNP said that the police attacked their peaceful protest and were joined by ruling party supporters to foil their movement.
“We were holding our programs peacefully. Police attacked without any provocation, leaving many of our activists injured. It was a joint operation perpetrated by police and the Awami League,” BNP spokesperson Shahiduddin Chowdhury Annie told EFE.
Local television channels showed ruling Awami League supporters carrying sticks and chasing BNP activists in Dhaka’s Gabtali Area.
BNP activists were seen burning tires and hurling brickbats at police in the Dholikhal area.
BNP announced their sit-in programs at Dhaka’s entry points at a rally on Friday, which was attended by hundreds of thousands of leaders and activists.
BNP’s acting chief Tarique Rahman, who is exiled in London, addressed the rally by phone.
After BNP announced its program, the ruling Awami League, which also held a “peace rally” at a short distance, announced that it would also hold programs at the same place around the same time.
BNP media wing chief Jahir Uddin Swapan told EFE that police had arrested at least 538 of its party leaders and activists before Friday’s rally.
The Bangladesh opposition organized several big rallies in recent months calling for PM Hasina’s resignation and the formation of a caretaker government before the next general election due later this year or early 2024.
At least one person was killed and scores injured as opposition party protests turned violent on Tuesday.
The BNP said 18 leaders and activists have died, and over 2,000 have been injured in clashes with police and ruling Awami League supporters since August last year.
The BNP has been holding protests against rising commodity prices, seeking the unconditional release of party chief Khaleda Zia, and setting up an interim government for the polls.
Zia, sentenced to 10 years on a corruption charge, is banned from engaging in political activities or leaving the country after her conditional release in March 2020.
The Awami League and the BNP have ruled Bangladesh since 1991, except for a brief quasi-military rule in 2007–08. EFE