Activists of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL), student-wing of the ruling Awami League and the law enforcers clashed outside a temporary court at Bakshibazar in the capital on Wednesday turning the area into a veritable battlefield.
The leaders and activists of the BCL attacked leaders and activists of BNP and its front organisations at Chankharpool triggering violent clashes. Police charged batons on the agitators to disperse them, leaving at least eight people injured.
The seriously injured are receiving treatment at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH).
Awami League MP Chhabi Biswas, BNP leaders AKM Mozzammel Haque, Nurul Islam, Ismail Hossian, Dhaka University unit BCL president Mehedi Hasan Molla, among others, were critically injured in the clash and are receiving treatment at the DMCH.
The activists of Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal, the student wing of BNP, also torched the microbus belonging to Chhabi Biswas, ruling Awami League lawmaker from Netrakona-1 constituency in front of the DMCH during the clash.
"Miscreants torched my vehicle. I've received head injuries," Biswas told journalists.
Meanwhile, the BNP Acting Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir at a press briefing at the party's central office at Naya Paltan claimed that the leaders and activists of the BCL led by its president Badiuzzaman Sohag attacked the workers of the BNP and its associate bodies when they were waiting at Chankharpool to welcome Khaleda's motorcade.
Claiming that over six hundred leaders and activists of the BNP and its front organisations were injured in the clash, Fakhrul said, police arrested at least 50 of people from the spot.
The BNP leader claimed that the BCL leaders had planned to attack BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia but the people resisted them from harming her.
"The plan was to mount an attack on the leader's (Khaleda) motorcade. You've noticed that attack had started five minutes before her motorcade reached there," he said.
Fakhrul Islam said, "The government will have to arrest the guilty or else it must take responsibility for any situation."
The BNP will observe demonstration at all district towns including Dhaka city on Friday protesting the incident, the BNP leader added.
About the Gazipur's rally Fakhrul said, "We have already received permission from the authority and the rally will be held on time."
Witnesses said the clash outside the court started around 12:25pm when the BCL men attacked the workers just few minutes before Khaleda entered the court building to appear before the newly appointed Judge of Special Judge Court-3 Abu Ahmed Jamadar.
The feuding groups locked themselves in chase and counter-chase using sticks and threw brickbats at each other which turned the area into a battle field. Transport movement on both Bakshibazar and the adjacent roads remained suspended following the clash.
At one stage of the clash, the clashing groups broke the police barricade. Police fired tear gas shells and blank shots to bring the situation under control.
A large number of BNP activists gathered in front of the court and Chankharpool area since the morning to welcome Khaleda when the clash began.
The makeshift court was holding hearing in two graft cases against the party chief Khaleda Zia in her presence. Later, the Judge Jamadar adjourned the hearing in the cases till January 7 in response to separate adjournment prayers submitted by Khaleda's lawyers saying that they are not prepared for the hearing.