At least five people were killed and dozens more injured when police attempted to disperse protests in various cities against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Bangladesh.
Different organizations have been protesting against the Indian prime minister’s planned visit for several weeks. Modi arrived in Bangladesh on Friday morning with his entourage for a two-day visit to join Bangladesh’s golden jubilee of independence and the 100th birth anniversary of its founding leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
“During our peaceful protests against Modi’s visit to Bangladesh, police brutally killed five of our supporters, and in response, we have called for a countrywide strike on Sunday,” Azizul Haque Islamabadi, joint secretary of the Hefazar-e-Islam, the largest non-political Islamic platform of the country, confirmed to Anadolu Agency.
Four protesters were killed in the country’s largest port city Chittagong and another was killed in the eastern district of Brahmanbaria, Islamabadi added.
India helped the Bangladeshi militarily in 1971 war, which resulted in a strong bond between Dhaka and New Delhi.
But ties between the two neighbors have reportedly been passing a bad patch due to frequent killings of Bangladeshi nationals at the hands of Indian border forces, diversion of upstream water of common rivers, and the recent enactment of a controversial Citizenship Amendment Act, which grants citizenship to “persecuted minorities” from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
“Modi is a killer and extremist ruler whose hand is stained with Muslims’ blood. He was personally involved in the attack on the historic Babri mosque,” Islamabadi blamed. “So, it’s our moral duty to protest his arrival in our country,” he said.
In Chittagong, hundreds of Hefazat-e-Islam activists gathered after Friday prayers to protest Modi’s visit. The police, on the other hand, erected barricades and blocked the roads, infuriating the activists.
The protesters attempted to dismantle the barricades, which sparked the clash. To disperse the demonstrators, police used tear gas shells and live bullets, as well as beating them with batons, according to eyewitnesses.
“Four are dead and their bodies have been taken to the morgue for autopsy,” Alauddin Talukder, assistant sub-inspector of the Chittagong Medical College Police Outpost, told Anadolu Agency.
Earlier, in Dhaka, dozens of people were wounded, including three journalists, when police used tear gas shells to disperse the Hefazat-e-Islam activists who were planning to march on a major road against the visit of India’s prime minister.
After the weekly Friday prayers, the protesters planned to begin a rally from the northern gate of Baitul Mukarram mosque in Dhaka. However, the police refused to let them allow. The area quickly became a battleground as some people pelted the police with stones, prompting them to retaliate with tear gas shelling.
Hundreds of plainclothes men carrying sticks targeted the protesters as well. Police were also seen sitting in riot shielded vehicles firing on the demonstrators.
Protesters set fire to many vehicles, including a motorcycle. After nearly two hours, the police were able to get the situation under control.