Cops open fire on protesters, 1 killed

Death in Road Accident
33 injured in clash in Munshiganj; schoolboys among 16 bullet-hit; OC suspended
Students and locals barricade the Dhaka-Mawa Highway at Kuchiamora demanding a speed bump there. Inset, the pregnant wife of Moslem crying in front of his body. Photo: Star/Banglar Chokh

One person was killed and 33 others including schoolboys were injured yesterday as law enforcers opened fire on agitating locals demanding a speed breaker on Dhaka-Mawa highway at Kuchiamora under Sirajdikhan upazila of the district.

The demand for constructing the speed breaker came following the death of Mehedi Hasan, a class-VII student of local Adarsha High School, in a road accident in the area Wednesday.

The deceased in yesterday’s clash was identified as Moslem, 32, son of Md Ehsan of Maddhachar village in the upazila.

Of the injured, eight were police personnel while 25 locals and students. Sixteen of the 25 sustained bullet wounds.

Students of Adarsha High School Rony and Uzzal of class-X; Al Amin, Alamgir, Israfil and Dil Mohammad of class-IX; Sagor Saha and Kanti Rajbangshi of class-VIII; Jarina, 55, a staff of the school; and college student Jahangir, 19, were among the bullet injured, said Uma Kanta Roy, a witness and headmaster of the school.

Assistant Police Super Saiduzzaman Faruki, 36, Officer-in-charge Mizanur Rahman, 45, and Second Officer Mushfiqur Rahman, 42, were also injured in the clash.

The injured have been rushed to different hospitals in the area and Dhaka.

Uma Kanta Roy said police indiscriminately charged baton and later opened fire on the students and locals.

ASP Faruki said the agitating crowd kept Second Officer Mushfiqur confined, which compelled the law enforcers to fire 20 rubber bullets, 12 teargas canisters and finally 20 bullets.

Police opened fire to save their lives as the situation turned so violent, he added.

Superintendent of Police Shafiqul Islam claimed that most the demonstrators were equipped with various locally made weapons and the number of students present during the clash was very little.

Sources said students barricaded the highway around 11:30am demanding construction of a speed breaker on the highway, which was promised following the Wednesday road crash.

They also attacked the law enforcers when they tried to restrain the students from vandalising vehicles, said the sources adding that traffic on the highway came to a complete standstill during the time.

Local MP Shagufta Yasmin Emily rushed to the spot hearing about the clash. She managed to pacify the agitating people and help send Moslem’s body for autopsy.

Moslem’s pregnant wife broke into tears when she saw the body. She is now left with a son and a daughter.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina took responsibility of the bereaved family and pledged action against the culprits.

Inspector General of police Nur Mohammad said he ordered suspension of the officer-in-charge of Shirajdikhan Police Station and departmental action against the policemen involved in firing.

He said he also ordered thorough investigation into the incident and to submit to him a report in this regard earliest possible.

“Usually police fire blank rounds to panic or disperse a mob. So far I know, police yesterday opted to fire bullets to save their lives as per the Private Defence Act,” said Dhaka Range Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Moklesur Rahman.

A top official of the police headquarters said they were investigating whether the firing was deliberate or accidental.

District Commissioner Md Azizul Aalm said they are still unconvinced whether the situation demanded shooting.

After around a seven-hour halt, traffic movement on Dhaka-Mawa highway resumed around 6:45pm.

THE DAILY STAR