Two Awami League factions clash in joy rallies on budget

Awami League men clash at Anwara in Chattogram on 7 June, 2024.Prothom Alo

A clash broke out between supporters of state minister for finance Waseqa Ayesha Khan and former land minister Saifuzzaman Chowdhury in a programme to welcome the proposed national budget in Anwara upazila of Chattogram Friday.

The hour-long fight took place in the Bandar Centre area at 4:30 pm, injuring at least five individuals from both sides. Later, the police brought the situation under control by firing tear gas shells and blank bullets. 

According to Awami League sources, the two factions announced separate joy rallies marking the announcement of the proposed budget. Tensions escalated when members from both sides gathered in the area and took positions on either side of the road. They started slogans targeting each other, which eventually led to scuffle and clash. 

At one stage, the police charged batons to disperse the clashing activists. Followers of the former land minister, including Anwara Upazila Awami League president MA Mannan, took refuge in a nearby shop. Vehicular movement was stalled during the clash, while businesses were shuttered. 

Jasim Uddin Chowdhury, a loyalist of Saifuzzaman Chowdhury and general secretary of Anwara Upazila Awami League, claimed that he, along with MA Mannan Chowdhury, and some others, sustained injuries in the clash. 

"We called for the programme with due permission, but the rival group carried out this violence,” he said. 

On the other hand, Kazi Mozammel Haque, a follower of the state minister, accused the rival faction of intentionally disrupting their pre-planned programme. 

“We announced our programme yesterday, but they countered it with their programme today. Jubo League leader Tipu suffered injuries during the clash. It was incited by the OC of Karnaphuli police station," he alleged.

Officer-in-Charge (OC) of Karnaphuli police station, Zahir Hossain, said both groups called for joy rallies marking the budget. They engaged in clashes there and were later dispersed.

Ishtiaq Emon, upazila nirbahi officer (UNO) of Anwara, said both sides were asked to hold their programmes at different times, but they ended up gathering simultaneously.