Another incident of masked attack occurred killing a BNP leader in Naogaon. With this, five incidents of such attacks took place in the past two months. Four leaders and activists of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and Jamaat-e-Islami were injured in those incidents.
Not only in Naogaon, these attacks on opposition leaders and activists have been occurring in neighbouring Natore and Rajshahi. It has been learned that there have been 10 such incidents that occurred in Natore and three in Rajshahi in a month.
By the end of September, 10 cases were registered in connection with these incidents. While two suspects were apprehended in Naogaon, no arrests have been made in Rajshahi and Natore.
According to the victims of these incidents, most occurrences took place at night and in empty areas. The assailants, wearing masks and helmets, arrived on motorcycles, assaulting opposition leaders and workers through beatings, hacking, severe tendon injuries, or gunshots.
These incidents have instilled fear among the people in the three districts. Many of the injured victims are reluctant to file cases upon returning home after receiving treatment, fearing further harassment from the police. However, the police claim to be investigating whether these incidents are interconnected.
One killed in Naogaon
In Naogaon, the majority of the attacks have taken place in Raninagar upazila. Out of the five attacks, three occurred in Raninagar, one in Atrai, and one in Sadar upazila. Three of the injured are still undergoing treatment.
So far, two cases have been filed in connection with these incidents by the families of the victims, without naming any accused. The police have arrested two suspects in this regard.
Kamal Ahmed, the former president of BNP ward no. 9 of the pourasava, was brutally hacked by masked men at Yad Ali intersection while returning home in the Razakpur area of Naogaon city on Saturday around 9:00 pm. He succumbed to his injuries on the way to the hospital.
In connection with this incident, the son of the deceased filed a case at Naogaon Sadar Police Station, and the accused remain unnamed. No arrests have been made in this case thus far.
Regarding the incident, Naogaon Sadar Police Station Officer-in-Charge (OC) Faisal Bin Ahsan mentioned that CCTV footage from a nearby house was collected at the scene of the attack. The footage reveals the presence of six to seven attackers, but due to helmets and cloth covering their faces, no one can be recognised.
The initial incident of attacks in Naogaon occurred on the evening of 24 September at Amgram junction near Kaligram Union Parishad of Raninagar Upazila. Anwar Hossain, a member of the convening committee of the Upazila Jubo Dal, the youth wing of BNP, was assaulted while on his way home on his motorcycle. Five to six masked men beat him up and stabbed him in that incident, and no case was filed.
When questioned, Anwar Hossain told Prothom Alo, "What is the use of filing a case? If I file a case, the police will not take action; on the contrary, I will suffer more outrage from the attackers. Then I may lose my life."
The following day, on 25 September, Abul Hossain, an assistant teacher at Jagdish High School in Atrai Upazila and a Jamaat worker, was attacked. While returning from school on his motorcycle, he was assaulted by masked men in an empty street in the Malipukur Bazaar area in the afternoon.
Abul Hossain is still undergoing treatment at Rajshahi Medical College Hospital. However, Abul Hossain's wife filed a case at Atrai police station as a plaintiff in that incident.
On 23 October, miscreants hacked and injured Abu Raihan, the general secretary of Bargachha Union BNP in Raninagar Upazila. He was attacked on his way home by motorcycle from Malshan Bazar in the upazila at around 8:00 pm. He is also undergoing treatment at Rajshahi Medical College Hospital. The police have not yet filed a case in connection with the attack.
Abu Raihan, currently undergoing treatment, told Prothom Alo over the phone, "I am subject to outrage because of my involvement with BNP. Filing a case might expose me to more harassment. Due to this fear, I did not file a case."
On 12 November, Zahidur Rahman, the chairman of Paril Union Parishad (UP) in Raninagar and the joint convener of the Upazila Jubo Dal, was attacked by masked men when he entered the UP office.
He is presently receiving treatment at the National Institute of Traumatology and Orthopaedic Rehabilitation in Dhaka. However, no case has been filed at the police station regarding this incident.
Bayezid Hossain, the district BNP member secretary, commented on the successive attacks on party leaders and workers, stating, "Five attacks have occurred. In the recent attack on Saturday, one of our leaders lost his life. However, the police have been unable to apprehend the actual perpetrators involved in these incidents. A planned attack is being carried out on the leaders and workers of BNP with the aim of creating panic."
10 attacks in Natore
In Natore, there were 10 attacks within a month, but only five cases were officially registered, and no arrests have been made in connection with these cases.
According to information gathered from both the police and victims, six attacks occurred in Naldanga upazila, two in Sadar upazila, one in Lalpur upazila, and one in Singra upazila from 16 October to 17 November. Among the victims of these attacks, three are affiliated with BNP, six with Jamaat-e-Islami, and one with Islamic Andolan Bangladesh.
Except for one incident in Natore Sadar, nine of these incidents occurred during the night. In almost all cases, the attackers were masked or wearing helmets. Victims from five incidents reported that the miscreants used white-colored microbuses.
Attempts to contact Natore Superintendent of Police Tariqul Islam were unsuccessful, as he did not answer the calls. Statements from Natore Sadar, Naldanga, Lalpur, and Singra Police Stations were nearly identical. The police stated that the investigation into these incidents is ongoing, with efforts focused on identifying the attackers and the accused.
Two killed in Rajshahi
There have been three attacks in Rajshahi in the last one and a half months, resulting in two deaths and one injury. On the night of October 29, a physician and a village doctor were killed in Rajshahi city. Both victims were associated with Jamaat.
In all three incidents, masked men carried out the attacks using a microbus and fled in the same vehicle. The police reported that the cars used in the attacks had no number plates, making it challenging to trace any information. Unidentified individuals have been named as accused in all three cases.
Metropolitan Police spokesperson Jamirul Islam stated that there has been no progress in these three cases.
The two deceased individuals are Golam Kazem Ali, 42, a physician at the Popular Diagnostic Center in the Lakshmipur area of the city, and Ershad Ali, 45, a general practitioner from the Kachuatail area of the city. The surviving victim of the attack is Shaheen Alam, 34, from the Katakhali police station area.
Golam Kazem Ali was returning home when a microbus intercepted his motorcycle around 12:15 am. Masked assailants exited the microbus and stabbed Golam Kazem in the chest. He later died in the hospital.
Following Golam Kazem's death, his wife, Farhana Yasmin, filed a case as the plaintiff. The initial investigation was conducted by the Rajpara police station in the city. However, starting from 14 November, the Police Bureau of Investigation (PBI) took over the case's investigation.
Inspector Abdul Mannan, the Investigation Officer from PBI, informed Prothom Alo that Rajpara police station did not find any leads in the case, and the PBI is actively working on it. As of now, no arrests have been made in connection with this case.
On the night of 29 October, the lifeless body of Ershad Ali, who was murdered, was left in the City Bypass area by the masked perpetrators.
Supreme Court lawyer Shahdeen Malik told Prothom Alo that in countries where authoritarian regimes prevail, leaders and members of opposition political parties often are victims of extrajudicial killings, disappearances, and torture. As long as such a system persists, incidents of this nature are likely to continue.
*Staff Correspondent, Rajshahi and Correspondent, Natore, assisted filing this report
*This report, originally appeared in Prothom Alo print edition, has been rewritten in English by Farjana Liakat