Dozens of students were injured on Thursday as police cracked down on a demonstration in the capital Dhaka against the imminent visit of India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Modi is due in Bangladesh on Friday along with a number of world leaders invited to the golden jubilee celebrations of Bangladesh’s independence and the birth centenary of its founder, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
The Indian premier’s visit is being opposed by a segment of the country’s vast Muslim population, with protests mounting across Bangladesh since last week.
Several hundred students protested in Dhaka on Thursday, criticizing the government for inviting a leader who they say has blatantly persecuted Muslims in India.
The protesters faced off with police in the capital’s Motijheel area.
More than 40 students were hurt in the ensuing clashes, with some 45 more detained by police, according to protesters.
Police officials claimed that some security personnel were also injured and admitted to hospitals.
“The police attacked us with batons and over 40 students have been injured. We have taken them to the Dhaka Medical Hospital,” Fatima Tasnim, a student leader who also suffered injuries, told Anadolu Agency.
Calling on the government to rescind Modi’s invitation, Foez Ullah, the president of the Bangladesh Student Union, said the Indian premier’s policies go against the basic tenets of Bangladesh’s founding principles.
Other protesters said the demonstrations were being held to remind the government that Modi is responsible for killing hundreds of Muslims in Kashmir and other parts of India as well as Bangladeshi civilians at border crossings.
Heavy police presence was seen in most of the main areas of Dhaka as authorities remain vigilant to quell any further unrest.
“The situation is under control and police teams have been deployed throughout Dhaka to avoid any further untoward situation,” Mohammad Arafat, an official at the Motijheel police station, told the Anadolu Agency.
Blaming the protesters for the violence, he said it was unclear how many people were injured in clashes on Thursday.
Despite growing calls to cancel Modi’s visit, the Bangladesh government has stood its ground and reiterated last week that it will ensure full protection for all foreign dignitaries invited to the celebratory events.