The motorcade of Bangladesh Nationalist Party secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir on Sunday was attacked by ‘miscreants’ at Rangunia in southeastern Chittagong on their way to Rangamati to visit recent landslides-affected people.
The sudden attack left Mirza Fakhrul and BNP’s standing committee member Amir Khoshru Mahmud Chowdhury, vice-chairman Ruhul Alam Chowdhury and Chittagong division organising secretary Mahbuber Rahman Shamim, among others, injured and they were given first aid.
In protest against the attack, BNP senior joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi, from a news briefing at Comilla district BNP office, declared demonstrations at all district headquarters and metropolitan cities including Dhaka city for today.
Political parties, both leftist and rightist, also condemned the attack.
The incident took place around 10:30am on Chittagong-Kaptai road at Ichhakhali.
Witnesses said that some 40 people with stones, sticks and sharp weapons attacked the motorcade chanting slogan ‘Joy Bangla,’ widely used by ruling Awami League leaders and supports.
The attack was mounted when they were crossing Ichhakhali Bazar area.
They hurled stones and broke the windowpane, windshields and rear shield of four vehicles on the front of the motorcade.
Of the vehicles, a sport utility vehicle carrying Fakhrul, Khoshru, Ruhul and Shamim was badly damaged as it was leading the motorcade.
Khorshed Alam, driver of the SUV, said the attackers first broke windowpane, windshields and rear shield and hurled stones into the SUV carrying the party secretary general.
Later they attacked the other vehicles.
Later on the day, Fakhrul pointed fingers at the ruling party activists over the attack saying that they chanted `Joy Bangla’ slogan during the attack.
The attack was not only on BNP leaders but on democracy, he said.
Organising secretary Shamim said the attackers hurled heavy stones targeting them.
‘We quickly moved back and took shelter at an orphanage for a few minutes. Later we returned to Chittagong city,’ he said.
Shamim said he himself received injuries in the head while Fakhrul and Khoshru received injuries in the hands and Ruhul in the neck.
Rangunia police station officer-in-charge Imtiaz Bhuiyan said some 20 to 25 unidentified youths carried the attack about 11:00am on the motorcade carrying Fakhrul and he rushed to spot immediately.
‘We are not sure who launched the attack,’ he added.
None approached them with formal complaint, he said, adding, ‘but an investigation has been initiated to confirm their identities.’
Alwami League general secretary Obaidul Quader termed ‘unjust’ the attack on BNP secretary general’s motorcade.
Talking to journalists in Dhaka, Quader, also road transport and bridges minister, said the inspector general of police was asked to conduct a neutral investigation to find out the perpetrators, irrespective of their political identity.
After the attack, BNP high-profile team cancelled the visit, returned to Chittagong city and held a press conference at Chittagong Press Club.
At the press conference, Fakhrul said, ‘We were going there not for holding any rally or meeting. We were going to the affected areas only to express our condolence for the landslide victims.’
‘When we reached Ichhakhali Bazar of Rangunia upazila, 30-40 youths, armed with stones, hockey sticks and sharp weapons, attacked our motorcade amid heavy rain,’ Fakhrul said.
‘It is an attack on people who think freely and oppose the misdeeds of the government,’ he said.
Fakhrul said, `It’s an attack on the nationalist politics of the country. The true face of the ruling Awami League has been exposed through the attack.’
‘The situation of the people can easily be understood when the senior leaders come under attack,’ he said.
Meanwhile, at least four BNP activists were arrested from in front of the party’s central office at Nayapaltan in Dhaka city when the leaders and activists instantly brought out a procession at Nayapaltan around Sunday noon protesting at the attack, according to BNP assistant office secretary Taiful Islam Tipu.
Leaders of different political parties and association condemned the attack.
Communist Party of Bangladesh and Socialist Party of Bangladesh on Sunday condemned the attack.
CPB president Mujahidul Islam Selim and SPB general secretary Khalequzzaman in a joint statement said that such attack on the senior leaders of a major political party was not acceptable in the democratic country.
They demanded immediate arrest and exemplary punishment of those involved with the attack.
Jebel Rahman Ghaani, chairman of Bangladesh National Awami Party, a component of BNP-led alliance, in a statement also condemned the attack.
Supreme Court Bar Association president Zainul Abedin and secretary Mahbub Uddin Khokon condemned the attack.
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