Policeman killed in Bangladesh violence

A policeman was killed overnight after suspected activists of main opposition BNP and its radical ally Jamaat hurled a bomb at a police van.

PTI| Updated: Dec 27, 2013, 15:32 PM IST

Dhaka: A policeman was killed overnight after suspected activists of main opposition BNP and its radical ally Jamaat hurled a bomb at a police van, intensifying tensions ahead of a planned march to Dhaka on December 29.

The Combined Military Hospital (CMH) in Dhaka said constable Siddhartha Chandra Sarkar, 23, died hours after he was flown to the facility by a private helicopter ambulance from northwestern Rajshahi with fatal injuries.

Eight other policemen were also injured and they are being treated at Rajshahi Medical College Hospital (RMCH) after the activists set ablaze the police patrol van using a crude bomb.

Doctors said the blast had ripped open Sarkar`s lungs while the others received serious splinter injuries.
Sarkar is the second policemen to have died two days after unidentified miscreants set ablaze a police bus carrying traffic constables using petrol and firebombs, killing a policeman instantly.

Inspector General of Police Hassan Mahmood Khandker said members of the main law enforcement agency were being targeted through planned attacks to cripple the state machinery during the violent political protests.

The Rajshahi police said the activists carried out the attack apparently to avenge the detention of 20 others earlier yesterday following information of possible subversive activities to destabilise the government ahead of their December 29 "March for Democracy".

But BNP leader and mayor of Rajshahi Mizanur Rahman Minu denied the allegation saying, "We don`t know who carried out the attack on police but it could be an act of government supporters to blame the opposition."

The authorities yesterday deployed army troops across Bangladesh "in aid of civil administration" to maintain peace and order ahead of the controversial January 5 elections, that are being boycotted by the opposition.

The BNP-led 18-party opposition alliance is spearheading a fierce campaign for elections to be held under a non-party caretaker government with an "acceptable person" as its head replacing Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and have demanded shelving of the January 5 polls.

The violence has escalated since the BNP-led 18-party opposition alliance refused to take part in the elections after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina spurned its demands to quit and install a neutral caretaker government to oversee polls.

The government last week called in more paramilitary forces and police to contain the raging violence that has claimed around 130 lives since October.

An army statement said the armed forces were deployed in line with the election commission decision and the troops would act the "as a striking force" until January 9 while the commission officials said they could be as high as 50,000 in number to be drawn also from navy and air force.

The soldiers however were also seen guarding major highways and troubled areas ahead of their formal deployment to guard movement of their convoys as part of their annual winter exercise that began earlier this month.

BNP chairperson and ex-premier Khaleda Zia this week urged people to march towards Dhaka on December 29 from all over the country to "protect democracy" as the opposition alliance wrapped up their month-long blockade, preceded by protracted general strikes.

Zia asked the government to shelve the planned general election on January 5 fearing "it could be last nail in the coffin of democracy" accusing her archrival Hasina of "killing democracy to consolidate power forever".

Zia also asked the government not to obstruct the planned rally else her party would be forced to take even "tougher actions".

But the government vowed to resist the march saying it was planned to push the country into total anarchy while law enforcement agencies laid a siege around Zia`s residence yesterday as tensions erupted afresh pitting the ruling Awami League against BNP over the march.
"We will not allow her to create anarchy," state minister for law Quamrul Islam Chowdhury said yesterday.

Police in riot gear took positions around the house barring party activists and visitors entry into the house in upmarket Gulshan area.

Police yesterday also detained BNP lawmaker and Supreme Court Bar Association Secretary Mahbub Uddin Khokon in Dhaka from near the Supreme Court complex after the overnight arrest of fellow party lawmaker Shammi Akhtar along with three junior BNP leaders.

But media reports said activists of BNP and Jamaat started moving towards the capital from yesterday evening well ahead of the programme fearing police interception later.

Quoting police and political sources the reports said many planned to reach Dhaka by tomorrow undercover of bridal parties as a large number of wedding ceremonies are set to take place in the capital this weekend.

Hasina yesterday told a rally at her hometown in western Gopalganj that Zia would be judged "one day in Bangladesh" for unleashing terrorism and militancy in the country and killing people in the name of movements.

She alleged BNP was actually boycotting the elections as its ally Jamaat was disqualified from the polls under a High Court verdict.