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As many as 46 cases have been registered in the last 22 days in connection with attacks on the main opposition BNP's protest rallies and clashes in different parts of the country.

The total number of accused in these cases is 21,709.

Among them, the names of 2,777 people are mentioned while the rest are anonymous. Most of the accused are leaders and workers of BNP and its organisations.

The accused include the ailing, the elderly and those living abroad.

The information is gathered through analysing the data regarding the cases filed in 18 districts and the reports sent by the Prothom Alo correspondents of those districts.

Between 22 August and 13 September, BNP organised 48 rallies protesting against the price hike of essentials and deaths of three party leaders and activists. Their protest rallies came under attacks and clashes broke out at different parts of the country.

The houses, cars and businesses of BNP leaders and workers were attacked and vandalised at 25 places.

As BNP and the ruling Awami League's gatherings were announced at the same places, the administration issued Section 144 in 17 places.

Out of the 46 cases regarding these incidents, 29 of them are filed by police. The plaintiffs in the remaining 17 cases are the leaders of Awami League and its associate bodies.

BNP alleged that the ruling party Awami League and its front organisations' leaders and workers carried out attacks one after another to rein in their movement and the police also prevented them (BNP). Not only that, they also filed cases against BNP leaders and workers in these incidents.

A series of protest rallies were launched at the district and upazila level across the country from 22 August to protest against the price hike of fuel and daily necessities and the death of two BNP leaders, who were shot dead by police, in Bhola on 31 July.

During a press conference of BNP in Dhaka on 4 September, it was said that three leaders and workers of the party were killed in attacks on BNP rallies in different parts of the country starting from Bhola incident on31 July till 4 September.

More than two thousand leaders and activists were injured. More than 200 people have been arrested in these incidents. More than 4000 leaders and workers have been mentioned in the case. About 20,000 people have been charged anonymously.

Accused made despite not present at the spot 

Analysing the statements of 46 cases, it has been found that most of those named as accused are BNP leaders and workers. However, persons who are ill, unable to move due to age, have been abroad for a long time, were away on business — are also accused.

Awami League leaders filed two cases in connection with the attacks on the BNP meeting in Kalmakanda, Netrokona on 23 August. There are 95 accused in total. Among them are the names of ex-chairman of Kharanoi union parishad (UP) freedom fighter Akkas Ali (75), ailing Shamsul Haque (75) of Bausam village, physically challenged Mamrooz Khan (45) of Sundrighat area.

Akkas Ali told Prothom Alo that he has been ill for a long time. Can't walk well. He was not in the area on the day of the incident. Yet, he has been accused.

Another accused Shamsul Haque was once the general secretary of union BNP.

His nephew, Kharanoi UP chairman Obaidul claimed that his uncle has been separated from politics since 2006. He told Prothom Alo, "My uncle has low vision, he cannot walk due to various diseases including diabetes and heart disease. He has been accused in two cases."

UP chairman Obaidul also said that a physically challenged person named Mamrooz Khan has been unnecessarily accused in Sundrighat area. Apart from this, a person named Saidul Islam was made an accused in Bamangaon area. But there is no person of that name in the area.

When asked about this, Kalmakanda police station officer-in-charge (OC) Mohammad Abdul Ahad Khan told Prothom Alo that these matters are being investigated.

A clash between BNP and Jubo League leaders took place in Eklashpur market of Begumganj upazila of Noakhali on 31 August. In that incident, the police filed a case as a plaintiff and a Jubo League leader filed another case as a plaintiff.

Accused No. 44 of the case is Noor Nabi, a contractor by profession. He claimed that he never did BNP politics. He was framed due to a land dispute with an Awami League leader of Eklashpur. Accused No. 21 in the case, Mohib Uliah claims that he lives in Dhaka and was not in the area on the day of the incident.

Accused No. 43 Shamsu Uddin alias Helal said that he does business in Dhaka. On the day of the incident, he was in a hospital in Dhaka with his sick wife. He also claims that he does not belong to any party. Accused No. 11 Abul Kashem (55) is sick. Local people said that he has been abroad for quite some time.

When asked who has been accused in the case, a plaintiff, Jubo League leader Rafiqul Islam initially claimed that he knows all the accused.

Later, when asked about some of them by name, Rafiqul Islam said that the names have been given by the union Awami League, they can say well. After a while, he said, those who help BNP with money, have been accused.

According to the case filed by police at Pakundia of Kishoreganj on 4 September, there are names of two people-Atiqur Rahman (45) and Mohd. Russell (35) – who work abroad. Atiqur returned to Saudi Arabia after his vacation on 2 August 2021 and Russell has been in Dubai for two months. However, it is known from local sources that Atiqur is a former member of upazila BNP and Russell was once the joint convener of the upazila Swechchhasebak Dal.

On 29 August, police clashed with BNP workers who were holding a rally at Sonagazi in Feni. The next day the police registered two cases. BNP vice chairman and industrialist Abdul Awal Mintoo was made the main accused in both the cases. Four of the more than three hundred accused claimed that they were elsewhere on the day of the incident for work and business. Yet, they have been accused.

Plaintiff of one of the two cases, sub inspector of Sonagazi model police station, Main Uddin Ahmed claimed to Prothom Alo, they filed the name of the accused having analysed the video footage of the incident.

Moreover, at least 30 of the accused in the cases filed at Sitakunda of Chittagong, Patharghata of Barguna and Sirajganj claimed they are not involved in any sort of politics.

Leaders and activists are on the run 

As many as 5,971 people, including named and unnamed, have been made accused in two cases in connection with the shooting Jubo Dal activist Shaon Pradhan to death during the BNP-police clash in Narayanganj. According to local sources, more than 50 BNP leaders and workers have fled the area in fear of arrest.

But the spokesperson of Narayanganj police, additional police super Amir Khasru told to Prothom Alo, those who are accused in the cases, are in hideout to avoid arrest.

In Nandigram and Shibganj of Bogra, three cases were filed mentioning names of 55 BNP leaders and 185 anonymous. BNP member of parliament for Bogra-4 (Kahalu-Nandigram) Mosharraf Hossain told Prothom Alo that the leaders and activists are now out of the area for fear of being arrested as unknown accused even if they are not accused in the case.

So far 4,723 people have been accused in 14 cases in Noakhali. District BNP general secretary Abdur Rahman told Prothom Alo that many people are running away in fear of being arrested as unidentified accused in the 'disappearance case'.

BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir in a press conference in Dhaka on Tuesday, referring to the incidents of attacks on BNP programmes and police shootings at various places, said that these incidents are not happening everywhere or not all the police are involved with these incidents.

Some over enthusiastic officials are causing such incidents in some places. He said, "Police is our state organisation. We never consider police as opponents. We also think that they will fulfill their constitutional responsibilities."