'Who will my daughter call father now'

Deceased Rifat Ullah's wife Razia Sultana and her four-month-old daughter
Prothom Alo

The environment is sombre at the house of Rifat Ullah, 22, who was killed in a clash between the police and activists of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) at Kuliarchar in Kishoreganj on the first day of the three-day blockade of the de facto opposition on Tuesday.

Rifat’s wife Razia Sultana fell unconscious upon receiving the news that her husband was shot dead by the police. Her cry hasn’t stopped since regaining consciousness.

She, with her four-month-old daughter on her lap, was lamenting saying, “My daughter’s father is no more. Police have killed him. Who will she call father now? Ask this to the police.”

Earlier, on Tuesday morning, two people were killed and more than 50 were injured in a clash between the police and leaders and activists of BNP in the Chhaysuti bus stand area along the Dhaka-Sylhet highway in Kuliarchar upazila. However, police have confirmed one casualty till filing of this report.

The deceased were identified as Rifat Ullah of Chhaysuti Dakkhinpara village in the Chhaysuti union of the upazila and Billal Mia from Madhabdi village of the same union. Rifat was Chhaysuti union Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal’s vice-president and Billal was the president of the Krishak Dal unit of the union.

The locals were seen waiting for Rifat’s body in his house at noon. His family members were mourning his death in the rooms of the house. His father was crying in one of the rooms.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, he said, “If I knew he would join the procession, I won’t let him go. I would try to convince him that the police can do anything. They are merciless.”

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According to locals, Rifat got involved in BNP’s politics a few years ago. He was a regular activist in the party programmes. He was in the front row of the procession while it was near the Chhaysuti bus stand.

Later, he was shot at one point of the clash between the police and BNP activists. He was lying on the street there for a long time. Later, he was rescued and was rushed to Jahurul Islam Medical College Hospital. The on duty physician declared him dead on arirval.

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The family members of Billal Mia were also wailing at their house. His wife Anna Begum was seen lamenting in the yard with her three children.

Anna said Billal left the house for the bus stand after having breakfast. But she did not know that he would join the procession. Later, locals informed her that Billal was lying on the street after being shot.

She said, “I tried to convince him that the political environment of the country is not healthy. But he didn’t listen.”

Billal Mia had been involved in BNP’s politics since his childhood. He was leading the blockade from the front today. Billal was lying on the street for a while after being shot. Many people at the spot felt that Billal died at the spot. At one point, Billal’s relative reached the spot and tried to take him to a hospital. However, he was sent to the Syed Nazrul Islam Medical College Hospital under police custody.

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The BNP blamed the police for the casualties. District BNP president and the party's central committee deputy organising secretary (Mymensingh) Shariful Alam said, “Police have shot dead two of our activists. Police will have to bear the responsibility.”

Speaking regarding the accusations, Kishoreganj police super (SP) Md Rasel Sheikh said, “The number of attackers was more than 200. Some of them even had firearms. They attacked us in unison. The police retreated a bit as a result. At one point, police members took shelter in a hut. But that was not enough. At one point, they had no choice but to open fire. It is not yet confirmed whether Rifat and Billal were shot dead by the police or not.”