BNP men flee homes in fear of police, AL men

Police attack BNP rally in Narayanganj
Prothom Alo

Police have been raiding the houses of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) leaders in Narayanganj since the incident in which a Jubo Dal activist was killed during a clash between BNP and police.

BNP leaders and activists have fled their houses in fear of being arrested. They even on Saturday did not attend the political event organised centrally in every district protesting against the killing of Shawon on Saturday.

Two correspondents of Prothom Alo visited houses of nine top leaders of BNP and its associated bodies. Of them, nine have been hiding since the incident. Only a leader of Swechchhasebak Dal, also a councillor of Narayanganj City Corporation, was at his office.

The BNP leaders allege that apart from the police, Awami League activists are also looking for them. Along with showdowns in front of the houses of BNP leaders, they are also threatening the family members.

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Meanwhile, additional police super (ASP) of Narayanganj, Amir Khasru Mahmud, claimed no one was being harassed except those who are made accused in the case.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, he said those who would be found to be involved after analysing the video, would be brought to book. Some 10 people have been arrested in two cases as of Saturday, he said.

District Awami League president Abdul Hai told Prothom Alo, “I don’t support vandalising the houses of the opposition or threatening them. Actions will be taken if there is any specific allegation.”

BNP leaders and activists locked into a clash with police from 10.00am to 12.00pm on Thursday. Some 26 were shot, including women and pedestrians, during the clash.

Jubo Dal activist Shawon was shot dead. More than 50, including the police members, sustained injuries in chase and counter-chase, baton charge and by hurling brickbats. The DIT commercial area and no. 2 Rail Gate area of the town turned into a battleground during the clash.

According to the police, cases have been filed against 71 members of BNP, including the top leaders. Some 800 to 900 have been made unknown accused. Some 5,000 have been accused in the case filed over the killing of Jubo Dal activist Shawon.

Mohanagar (Metropolitan) Chhatra Dal president Shahed Ahmed is a resident of Nagar Khanpur area of the town. He was not at his home on Saturday afternoon. Samsuddin Ahmed, father of Shahed Ahmed, said his son has been hiding since the night before the incident.

He said a team of police came to their house the night before the incident, but they didn’t open the door. Before that, people from Awami League came to their house for his son. They even fired blanks in front of their house.

Speaking to Prothom Alo over the phone, Shahed Ahmed said, “Making us accused after killing our own activist is a rare incident. We can no longer stay at our homes.”

Member secretary of Narayanganj mohanagar (metropolitan) Jubo Dal, Monirul Islam has also left home since the incident. His flat in the Talla area of the town was found locked from outside on Saturday afternoon.

Neighbour Shahdat Hossain lives on the second floor of the building.

He said Monirul had not returned since the incident. Speaking over the phone, Monirul said he and other leaders and activists of the party are in hiding at the moment.

Senior vice-president of Narayanganj mohanagar (metropolitan) Chhatra Dal, Rafi Uddin, was not at his home in the Deobhog Pakka Road area of the town either.

His mother Rashida Zaman is the former president of district Mahila Dal. She said, “Police and Awami League men are inquiring about our party activists. They are making a list.”

She even claimed that the police went around her house last Thursday.

Shakhawat Hossain, senior vice-president of city BNP, has also been in hiding since the day of the incident.

Claiming to Prothom Alo over the phone that the police had gone to his house several times in search of him, he said, "The police are shooting and killing our leaders and activists. The police are filing cases against unknown accused and making mass arrests.”

The main gate of the house of Rashidul Rahman Masdair, former organising secretary of metropolitan Jubo Dal, was found locked from outside.

Rashidul's younger brother Bazlur Rahman, who is at home, told Prothom Alo, "To be honest, since 2013, my brother has not been staying at home. He is in jail or on the run all the time. He comes home rarely.”

Speaking to Prothom Alo over the phone, Rashidul said, “I have been accused in 33 political cases. I was not accused in the case filed on Thursday. But I may get arrested as an unknown accused. From this fear I left the house.”

Acting general secretary of mohanagar (metropolitan) BNP, Abdus Sabur Khan, convenor of BNP’s Fatullah unit Zahid Hasan and vice-president of mohanagar (metropolitan) BNP and former chairman of Bandar upazila Aataur Rahman could not be found at their homes either on the same day.

Zahid Hasan’s wife told Prothom Alo that her husband had been absconding since the killing of Jubo Dal activist.

Mentioning that she has become accustomed to her husband’s absconding life, she said, “It is a matter of luck to find him (Zahid Hasan) at home. My two elder sons are habituated to this, but my little daughter doesn’t get the love of her father. She cries for her father whenever he is not at home. It is not possible to persuade her.”

Golam Faruque alias Khokon has been on the run for a few months. In the meantime, at least five cocktails were blasted in front of his house in Murhapara area of Rupganj on Friday afternoon.

He said, “None of the top and mid-level BNP leaders is being able to stay at their homes any longer.”

Abul Kawsar, president of city Swecchasebak Dal and councillor of ward no. 23 of Narayanganj City Corporation, was at his office at around 7.30pm on Saturday.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, he said, “Work is underway to update the voter list. I have responsibility as a public representative.”

District unit BNP member secretary Mamun Mahmud told Prothom Alo that they were in fear due to cases filed by the police. None of the leaders and activists of the district and city BNP is at home. Therefore, they could not take part in the rally protesting against the killing of Jubo Dal activist Shawon.

Shawon’s family under pressure

Meanwhile, Shawon Pradhan’s family has been under serious pressure since his killing. There are allegations that the local Awami League and administration are putting pressure on the family to not to overdo anything with Shawon’s political identity or the case. Due to these pressures from the ruling party and the administration, the family members do not want to talk to the newspersons.

Shawon's elder brother Milon Hossain has been named as the plaintiff of the case filed over the killing. He alleged on Thursday that he didn’t know anything about the case.

Farhad Hossain, another brother of Shawon, told Prothom Alo, “We haven’t complained against anyone and haven’t filed any case. I want justice for my brother’s killing.” He didn’t want to say anything further.

Seeking anonymity, some of the relatives said Shawon’s uncle Shawkat Ali is an Awami League leader. He is a close associate of Awami League MP Shameem Osman. He and Awami League activists have kept Shawon’s family under constant pressure in various ways. Besides, the police also have kept the family under pressure. Although they want to speak, they cannot disclose many things under pressure.

Speaking regarding these allegations, the officer-in-charge (OC) of Narayanganj Model police station, Anisur Rahman, said, “Three men, including Shawon’s brother Milon, came to the police station and filed the case that day. They have taken the record copy of the case after submitting the signed case deposition on the same day. I don’t know from where they wrote this case deposition. I don’t know why they are denying after filing the case.”

Shawkat Ali, general secretary of Fatullah Awami League, told Prothom Alo that he had done everything possible from his part as the uncle of the deceased. In addition, he also oversaw so that law and order situation does not deteriorate.

The family of Shawon did not ask for filing a case and they did not say no either.

Moktar Hossain, uncle of the deceased, said, “This is a democratic country. Whichever party did it, a person was shot dead, and justice will not be served; that cannot happen. We want fair investigation and to this incident and punishment to the persons responsible.”

*This report appeared in the print and online edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Ashish Basu