Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Bangladesh: B.Chowdhury, Kamal Hossain assaulted


Barely five minutes into the programme, the Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal (JCD) and Jubo Dal cadres attacked the gathering at about 2:30pm. Some JCD activists, who had already taken seats at the hall, began shouting 'catch', 'catch' and threw rotten eggs, sandals and shoes at the leaders on the dais. People began running for cover, as the intruders swooped on them with sticks and iron rods, said witnesses.

2 POST

BNP men foil Dr Kamal, B Chy's Rangpur meet 30 including top leaders hurt
Rafique Sarker, from Rangpur

At least 30 people were injured when aktivists of ruling BNP's front organisations allegedly swooped on the audience at a mass dialogue of Jatiya Oikya Mancha and Bikalpa Dhara Bangladesh (BDB) at Rangpur Town Hall yesterday.

Oikya Mancha Convenor and Gono Forum President Dr Kamal Hossain, BDB President Badruddoza Chowdhury, Secretazy Abdul Mannan and BDB Spokesman Mahi B Chowdhury, MP, however, escaped unhurt.

Police deployed in and outside the town hall were mere bystanders during the onslaught, witnesses alleged.

Jatiya Oikya Mancha and BDB leaders described the incident as attempts on their lives and blamed it on the prime minister and home minister. They demanded a proper explanation from the government.

The seriously injured include member of the National Executive Committee and Central Co-Ordinator of Gono Ishtehar Firoz M Hassan, former whip Abdur Rouf, Executive Convenor of Jubo Dhara ATM Kamal, B Chowdhury's bodyguard Mojibor Rahman and Gono Forum leaders Abdul Mannan Niazi and Wajed Ali Khan Parvez.

Barely five minutes into the programme, the Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal (JCD) and Jubo Dal cadres attacked the gathering at about 2:30pm, witnesses told The Daily Star.

Some JCD activists, who had already taken seats at the hall, began shouting 'catch', 'catch' and threw rotten eggs, sandals and shoes at the leaders on the dais. People began running for cover, as the intruders swooped on them with sticks and iron rods, said witnesses.

Dr Kamal, B Chowdhury, Mannan and some other leaders, however, refused to leave the dais. A stick and a rotten egg were hurled on B Chowdhury. BDB and Oikya Mancha adherents shielded their leaders and moved them to safety.

Panic that followed the attack gripped the Durga Puja shoppers in the town as well. They also ran to safety as the participants were flushed out of the town hall.

Witnesses said some 50 JCD and Jubo Dal activists with firearms, sticks and iron rods went to the town hall in groups at least half an hour before the start of the programme. Rangpur district JCD President Tajul Islam Lemon, General Secretary Naju and JCD leaders Masud Kabir Bakshi and Mahmud Parvez allegedly led the attack.

After foiling the dialogue programme, the attackers converged on a nearby field and cheered at their 'success', witnesses added.

At an impromptu press briefing at local circuit house at 3:00pm, Dr Kamal and B Chowdhury deplored the inaction of the law-enforcers and said no policemen came to their rescue.

"No-one is safe under the rule of the alliance government, which is why we organised the dialogue with people from all walks of life here to draft a guideline for the government," said Dr Kamal.

"They (alliance government) will make a big mistake if they think they would be in office for ever. Time will come when people will punish them," he noted.

B Chowdhury, also a former president, said the JCD and Jubo Dal activists have, in fact, attacked democracy by foiling the mass dialogue programme.

"Democracy is never secure in the hands of the alliance government. We must save it taking people on our side. And that is why, we will keep on holding mass dialogue in the 64 districts," he said.

Earlier on Monday, the first in the proposed series of mass dialogues was held in Dinajpur.

Prime Minister's Political Secretary M Haris Chowdhury, talking to the BBC Bangla Service last night, denied involvement of the BNP or any of its front organisations with the attack.

"Whenever any untoward incident takes place, all blame it on the government and it is not right," he said, adding the BNP had nothing to gain by attacking the meeting.

B Chowdhury and Dr Kamal flew back to Dhaka by a helicopter yesterday evening.

Daily Star 20/11/2004

2. Bangladeshi politicians attacked

Two prominent politicians in Bangladesh have been attacked after they went to the northern town of Rangpur to mobilise public support.

Witnesses say a group of youths surrounded former President Badruddoza Chowdhury and former Foreign Minister Dr Kamal Hossain.

They were attacked when they appeared at the town hall for what they said was a dialogue with the general public.

The pair blamed the assault on the governing Bangladesh Nationalist Party.

Local leaders of the BNP have denied allegations that they were involved in the incident.

According to the witnesses, the young men ransacked the podium, confined the two leaders inside the building and assaulted them.

The BBC's Waliur Rahman in Dhaka says that their supporters and police finally managed to rescue them half an hour after their confinement.

So far no one has been arrested.

Dr Chowdhury and Dr Hossain - the author of the Bangladeshi constitution - have launched an initiative to gather opinions about the future course of their anti-government movement.

The duo lead their own political groups but are in the process of unifying their parties.

In March Dr Chowdhury was prevented from holding a political rally in Dhaka by a stone throwing mob.

For decades he was an influential figure in the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, but now he is one of its harshest critics.


BBC 19/10/2004