At least 50 leaders and activists of Left Democratic Alliance were injured on Thursday as police foiled a programme of the alliance to besiege the Election Commission to press their demands for a free and fair national election.
The injured included alliance coordinator and Revolutionary Workers Party of Bangladesh general secretary Saiful Haque, Communist Party of Bangladesh general secretary Shah Alam, Socialist Party of Bangladesh leader Razequzzaman Ratan and Ganasamhati Andolon chief coordinator Zonayed Saki.
Video by: Ahammad Foyez
Leaders and activists of the of leftwing parties brought out a procession from the front of National Press Club to step up their demands, including next general election under a non-party caretaker government, quashing the decision to use electronic voting machines and initiatives for ensuring an environment for participatory elections.
Following a rally in front of the Nation Press Club, the alliance set off a procession towards the Election Commission’s office at Agargaon in the capital.
Police thwarted the procession of several hundred people by putting up a barricade at Karwan Bazar intersection.
Police charged batons on the activists as they tried to take down the barricade.
Later the left leaders concluded the march as the poling holding a police-cordoned short protest rally.
About the attack on protesters, Tejgaon police deputy commissioner Biplob Kumar Biswas claimed that police did not attack the rally but in fact the activists attacked police.
He said cops requested the protesters to give up their demonstration and disperse as the procession was creating traffic jam, but the activists ignored the request and attacked the police.
Addressing a brief rally at Karwan Bazar, Zonayed Saki said the police action on political activists demanding free and fair election proved that the government was trying to go for another ‘January 5-like’ election and for that reason it was trying to mum the voice of the people.
In the rally before starting the march, CPB president Mujahidul Islam Selim said left alliance would never merge with ruling Awami League or Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led alliances.
United Communist League leader Mosharraf Hossain Nannu said the government and the EC destroyed the credibility of the election system.
He said people lost their faith on present ruling system.
Left leaders also staged protests in front of district election offices at different parts of the country on Thursday to realise their demands.
The New Age correspondent in Satkhira reported that police detained three left leaders from the front of district press club.
The detained are — district unit SPB coordinator Nittananda Sarkar and members Khagendra Ghosh and Prasanta Kumar Roy.
Gana Forum in a statement condemned the police attack on LDA march.
In the statement, Gana Forum president Kamal Hossain said free and fair election would not be possible without reforming the electoral system.
BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir in a statement on Thursday evening also condemned the attack.
New Age Dhaka University correspondent reported that Progressive Students Alliance, a platform of left student organisations, in the evening brought out a procession at Dhaka University protesting at the police attack on left parties.
Hundreds of leaders and activists of the platform joined the procession from Teachers Students’ Centre and paraded major streets on the campus before ending the demonstration at the anti-hooliganism Raju memorial sculpture.
Condemning the attack, Jahid Sujon, PSA leader and also general secretary of Bangladesh Chhatra Federation, said government exposed its autocratic attitude to suppress democratic movement.
Demanding next general election under a non-part caretaker government, he also warned that ‘any conspiracy to stage any drama’ like previous national election would be foiled.
PSA also extends its support to the leftwing parties’ protest rallies across the country scheduled for Sunday.
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