At least four people were killed and scores, including cops, sustained injuries in clashes between police and local people at Borhanuddin upazila town in Bhola on Sunday over a Facebook post allegedly posting derogatory comments on the Prophet, Hazrat Mohammad (SM), and his daughter Fatima on Facebook.
The protesting Muslim crowd gathered to demand capital punishment of one named Biplob Chandra Shuvo from whose Facebook ID the post was allegedly been copied and circulated.
Earlier on Friday evening, Biplob, according the local police, lodged a general diary with Borhanuddin police station alleging that his Facebook account was hacked and such a post was sent from his account to tarnish his image.
The clash occurred when police asked the protesters under the banner of Muslim Tawhidi Janata to shorten the rally at Borhanuddin Upazila Eidgah Maidan as there was no approval of the rally there and a group of protesters attacked the police, witnesses said.
The deceased are madrassah student Mahbub, 14, college student Shahin, 23, and Mahfuzur Rahman Patwary, 45, all residents of different places of Borhanuddin upazila town and Mizanur Rahman, 40, of Hazirhat area under Monpura upazila in Bhola.
Mizanur and Mahfuzur died at Borhanuddin Upazila Health Complex and Mahbub and Shahin at Bhola Sadar Hospital, Bhola district civil surgeon Rathindra Nath Majumder told New Age.
He said that at least 42 injured people were admitted to Bhola Sadar Hospital until 5:00pm.
The civil surgeon said that seriously injured police constable Arif, 21, was sent to Dhaka by helicopter with bullet injuries on his left chest and left hand.
Barishal Sher-e-Bangla Medical College Hospital director Bakir Hossain said that at least 30 people with bullet injuries, including four in critical condition, were admitted to the surgery unit of his hospital.
The injured include Mizanur Rahman, 30, Yusuf Hossain, 60, Nantu, 40, Maksudur Rahman, 18, Tanvir, 30, Waliullah, 24, Siddik, 28, Abu Taher, 30, Shamim, 18, Sohrab, 30, Al-Amin, 18, Jamal, 26, Abul Kalam, 38, Kabir Hossain, 35, Alauddin, 42, Sohel, 26, Hannan, 44, Riaz, 29, Imam Hossain, 26, Nurul Islam, 35, Rakib, 13, Monir, 17, Rokib, 12, Munir, 17, Hasib, 14, Tazul Islam, 55, Munna, 13, Sujan, 35, Rakib-2, 12, Rakib-2, 15, admitted at this hospital from Bhola with bullet injuries.
SBMCH emergency medical officer Abul Hasnat Russel said that those who were admitted with bullet injuries, their condition were stable now.
Additional police forces were deployed at the hospital to ensure safety and security on and around the hospital area, he said.
Borhanuddin upazila police officials said that a message allegedly having derogatory comments against the Prophet Hazrat Mohammad (SM) and his daughter Fatima was sent from a Facebook account of a local Hindu youth named Biplob Chandra Shuvo on early Thursday and its screenshots went viral on Friday and Saturday on Facebook.
Police headquarters in a statement on Sunday evening, expressing condolence at the death and injury during the incident and confirmed once again that Biplob on Friday evening lodged a general diary alleging that his Facebook account had been hacked.
Biplob also informed the officer-in-charge that an unidentified caller had called him demanding toll from him, the statement said, adding that using the digital technology the police tracked down and arrested two Muslim youths — Sharif and Emon — from Patuakhali and Borhanuddin on the same night and took them to the police station for interrogation.
But, the statement said, as tension mounted in the area as the local Muslims started to gather, Biplob was shown detained on Saturday which led the locals to scrap their protest programme at Eidgah Maidan scheduled for Sunday 11:00am.
Witnesses said even though the protest programme was officially withdrawn, protesters in groups under the banner of Muslim Touhidi Janata came to the area at around 9:00am chanting slogans for capital punishment for the ‘offender’ who was accused of posting the comments on Facebook.
The police headquarters’ statement said that, the Barishal range additional deputy inspector general along with the local UNO and the police superintendent of police went to the spot and talked the people into leaving the venue by describing the initiatives taken by police.
As the crowd of local Muslims began to disperse, the stamen said, the officials went into a room of a place adjacent to the madrassah.
It said that another group, armed with firearms, attacked and opened fire on the officials waiting there at this juncture and at least three police personnel, including the additional DIG received injuries.
The statement said that the police, on orders from executive magistrate and the UNO, first lobbed teargas shells and then opened fire from shotguns to disperse the agitating people.
Later, police, taking the gravity of the situation into consideration and on orders from the magistrate, was compelled to open fire.
Of the four deceased, at least two of the victims sustained injuries to their heads which looked as if they were hit by blunt weapons, the statement said, quoting the doctors.
It said that the police headquarters had formed a five-member probe committee led by Barishal range DIG and asked the committee to submit its report within seven working days.
Md Riaz, one of the injured patients admitted to SBMCH, told New Age that their protest started peacefully at 11:00am but police came on the stage and asked them to end the programme immediately.
Both the sides then locked in an altercation and a group of protesters suddenly began to throw brickbats and police took to baton charges which finally led to the commotion, he said.
He also added that the clash began to escalate and turned more violent when the police began to lob teargas shells and opened fire.
Sohag, another injured at SBMCH, claimed that the police opened fire on their peaceful demonstration without any provocation.
Witnesses said as the rally ground turned into a battlefield, panic gripped the area and people started running for safer places.
They said that the huge number of slippers and shoes, brickbats and wooden logs were seen on and around the rally ground following the violent clashes.
An uneasy calm was prevailing in the area after the violence, they said.
Bhola district superintendent of police Sarkar Md Kaisar said in the evening that the situation was under control.
Masud Alam Siddique, deputy commissioner Bhola said that four platoons of BGB were deployed and were patrolling the area.
A three-member inquiry committee led by Mahamudur Rahman, deputy director LGRD, has been formed and was asked to submit report within next three days, the DC Bhola added.
Prime minister Sheikh Hasina, addressing the meeting with a 34-member delegation of the Bangladesh Awami Juba League at Ganabhaban on Saturday, urged the countrymen to show patience to avert any further untoward incidents over the Bhola issue, Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha reported.
The premier assured the countrymen of action against the people responsible for undermining Prophet Hazrat Mohammad (SM) using a Facebook ID of a local Hindu.
She raised questions about the motive behind the incident and why people were assembled there and attacked police personnel while they tried to pacify them.
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