46 Killed in Violence Over B'desh War Crime Verdict
Violence continued unabated in Bangladesh for the
second day today as the death toll rose to at least 46 in clashes that
erupted after a top leader of fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami was
sentenced to death for "crimes against humanity" during the 1971
Fresh clashes today claimed three lives in
Gaibandha and Chapainawabganj districts while one policeman succumbed to
his wounds sustained in yesterday's clashes.
showing no signs of abating, paramilitary border guards have been
deployed across the country to beef up security and ease tension that
has gripped the nation.
Violence broke out after 73-year-old
Delwar Hossain Sayedee, vice-president of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), was
sentenced to death by International Crimes Tribunal yesterday.
At least 42 people were killed yesterday in rioting triggered by the
death sentence to Sayedee, who was found guilty of eight counts out of
20, involving rape, mass killings and atrocities during the 1971 freedom
war against Pakistan.
Officials said that law enforcement agencies appeared to be the prime target of the right-wing JI activists.
The tense situation prompted local authorities to enforce ban on
gathering of more than four people under section 144 of Criminal
Procedure Code in troubled areas, five northwestern and one southwestern
district, said to be JI strongholds.
Many people, including
policemen, were injured when the supporters of Jamaat-e-Islami and its
student wing Islami Chhatra Shibir clashed with police and ruling party
men in different locations in the country.
rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse Jamaat protesters in the capital
Dhaka leaving several people injured, police said.
Meanwhile, in a major development main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist
Party (BNP) chief Khaleda Zia today extended its open support to its
extreme right-wing ally JI.
Zia accused Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of influencing the war crimes trial.
"No judge (of the war crimes tribunal) can now independently try the
accused after her (Hasina's) call asking them to be sympathetic to the
demands for death sentences to the war criminals," Zia told reporters.
JI earlier called for a 48-hour nationwide general strike from
Sunday to mount pressures to thwart the trial process as Zia called an
identical stoppage on Wednesday demanding resignation of the government.
Sayedee was the third JI politician to be convicted by the
International Crimes Tribunal since the trial of war crimes suspects,
mostly belonging to the Islamist group, began three years ago.
In the first verdict of the tribunal in January, former Jamaat leader
Abul Kalam Azad was sentenced to death on similar charges.
Another Jamaat leader Abdul Quader Mollah was sentenced to life in February for atrocities during the war.
"Our troops were deployed in 15 troubled districts in aide of civil
administration... BGB (Border Guard Bangladesh) has been kept alert so
it could move immediately wherever they are required," BGB chief major
General Aziz Ahmed told PTI.
A police spokesman, meanwhile,
said law enforcement agencies were on high alert as Jamaat and Sayedee's
supporters planned more protests.
thousand people converged on Shahbagh intersection as the youths
demanding death penalty to all war criminals started a public rally this
People from all walks of life imbued with the
spirit of '71 started to throng the Shahbagh since noon as the
demonstration stepped into 25th straight day.
They chanted anti-Jamaat-Shibir slogans and anti-strike slogans.
Also, tens of thousands of youngsters, joined by 1971 veterans and
ruling Awami League supporters, took to the streets in Dhaka and other
major cities yesterday to celebrate the verdict against Sayedee.
Violence erupted yesterday as activists of JI clashed with security forces, denouncing the judgement.
With a policeman succumbing to his injuries today, the number of
security personnel killed in the violence has risen to five.
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