A pickup, carrying Shahidul Islam and around 60 other BNP men from Keshabpur upazila in Jashore, was entering the Khulna city through Sonadanga around 1:00am on Saturday.
Whenever they reached in front of the Sonadanga police station, they were barred and thrashed recklessly by dozens of people. Shahidul sustained injuries in his arms and legs and his fellow party man Ziaul Hasan received injuries in his head.
While sharing the horrific experience, Ziaul said, “It seems to be around 1:00 am. Whenever the vehicle (pickup) reached in front of the Sonadanga police station, we saw some people come running. They said, stop the vehicle. Then they started thrashing (us) with sticks without any conversation.”
Sonadanga is the lone entry point of the divisional city for the people coming from Jashore, Satkhira, Bagerhat, and other upazilas of Khulna. On Friday night, such incidents of sporadic attack were reported from the entry points, including Sonadanga. But the police said they know nothing about the incidents.
No such people came to me, I do not know (these issues). I was also out until 1:30-2:00am , no one reported me.
The attack victims were seen beside the rally venue on the Sonali Bank premises in the city on early Saturday.
Shahidul was taking rest on a plastic mat rolled out on the footpath adjacent to the office of the Khulna bus owners association in the city’s Ferry ghat crossing area around 5:00am. He spent the night there and was feeling severe body pain. His right elbow was still bleeding while the right thigh was contused in thrashing.
Ziaul, who also spent the night on the sidewalk, was sitting next to Shahidul with a blood-stained bandage in his head. Some medicines wrapped in polythene were seen in front of him.
The two farmers came from Sagordari of Keshabpur along with other fellow party men, to join the BNP rally in Khulna, but have been welcomed with the thrashing at the city’s entry point.
The misery does not end here as the attackers even snatched their belongings. Shahidul said the attackers, at one stage of thrashing, took his mobile phone and Tk 100 from his pocket while Ziaul Hasan lost Tk 700 to the attackers.
Mazid Sarder, a resident of the same locality, managed to evade the thrashing, but could not save his belongings -- a mobile phone and a note of Tk 500.
In a separate case, a young man, wearing a red shirt and blood-soaked bandage in the head, was sitting on the footpath of Jashore road in the city. After going closer, it was seen that the collar and the shoulder of his red shirt were stained with drops of blood.
He identified himself as Aktaruzzaman Sumon, a member of Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal’s (JCD) Jashore district unit. When they were entering the Khulna city through Sonadanga by a truck, some 30-40 young men carried out an attack on the truck with hockey sticks, iron rods, bamboos, and sticks. Around 10 people, including Suman, were injured in the attack.
This (attack-obstacle) is the old character of Awami League. They have created terror fearing an uprising of the people. They have brought the terrorists to the streets and are using the state apparatus
But the police claimed to be totally unaware of the incidents. Momtajul Haque, officer in-charge (OC) of Sonadanga police station, told Prothom Alo, “No such people came to me, I do not know (these issues). I was also out until 1:30-2:00am , no one reported to me.”
While visiting the rally venue in the morning, the field level leaders were found delivering speeches. Some BNP men were sleeping on the streets and sidewalks while others were listening to lectures, sitting or standing there.
A group from Kumarkhali in Kushtia slept on the footpath adjacent to the Jashore road, after reaching there by 11:30pm on Friday. Alamin, the convenor of Jubo Dal’s Judboyra union in Kumarkhali, said they did not encounter any attack while entering Khulna, but were assaulted in Kaliganj of Jhenaidah during their journey by a mail train. They all brought dry foods with them.
Swechchhasebok Dal activist Golam Ajam came to the rally from Rampal of Bagerhat. He said around 450 people came to the rally by six pickups from Rampal. They were waylaid at the toll booth of Rupsha bridge, Katakhali and zero point of Khulna on their way to the rally.
They came under attack at Katakhali. Three sustained serious injuries and are now receiving treatment at a clinic in Khulna, he said.
Many BNP men who came from other districts were staying at hotels and residences of relatives in the night. At the same time, a large number of activists spent the entire night at the rally venue.
A group of Chaatra Dal’s Khulna district unit took position in Ferry ghat crossing area in the city.
In conversation with Kazi Asifur Rahman, member of Khulna city JCD, and Rakib Hasan, joint convener of its City College unit, it was learnt that a group of the student front was in charge of guarding the rally stage over the night. Another group was engaged in rescue of the fellow part ymen who came to the city from other districts and faced attack here.
BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir and a number of senior leadres reached Khulna on Friday night. They expressed concern over the attacks by the ruling party men.
Mirza Fakhrul told Prothom Alo on Saturday morning, “This (attack-obstacle) is the old character of Awami League. They have created terror fearing an uprising of the people. The have brought the terrorists to the streets and are using the state apparatus.”
He said the basic point is that the protesting people took to the streets despite all these efforts. It is clear that people want restoration of democracy, elections under a neutral government and release of Khaleda Zia.