At least two people have reportedly been killed in the violence, but police could not confirm if the deaths are the result of attacks
Demonstrators torched a traffic police office, several homes and vandalised shops during anti-Ahmadiyya protests in Panchagarh on Friday, Mar 3, 2023.
Published : 3 March 2023, 02:50 PM
Hundreds of Muslims have carried out arson attacks on homes and vandalised shops during protests against an event announced by the Ahmadiyya community in Panchagarh.
At least two people have reportedly been killed in the violence, but police could not confirm if the deaths are the result of attacks on Friday.
The situation improved at night after Border Guard Bangladesh deployed 17 platoons to the town as tension simmered after violence in the afternoon.
Mahmud Ahmed Sumon, a spokesman for the organisers of Jalsa Salana, a religious gathering of the minority Muslim community, said they called off the event at Ahmadnagar on the outskirts of the town in the face of the protests.
The district administration made announcements through loudspeakers about the organisers’ decision to call off the programme.
Demonstrators confront the police in Panchagarh during anti-Ahmadiyya protests on Friday, Mar 3, 2023.
A man named Arifur Rahman, 27, died when he was rushed to Rangpur Medical College Hospital reportedly due to a head injury he received during the violence.
SM Sirajul Huda, superintendent of police in the northern district, said they heard about the death of a person, but could not confirm the circumstances under which the incident occurred.
“We’re waiting for a post-mortem examination report. We’ve kept watch on the town. Additional police, BGB and RAB personnel have been deployed.”
As the news of the death of another person spread later, Sirajul said they initially could not identify the victim because the attackers thrashed his face.
The police heard the person is Jahid Hasan, 40, an Ahmadiyya man from Natore who came to Panchagarh to join the Jalsa. “He might be staying in Ahmadnagar,” said Sirajul.
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said he also heard the news of a person’s death but there was no confirmation.
The authorities could not say how many people were injured in clashes between the protesters and the law enforcers. Local journalists said at least 20 people, including SA TV’s Panchagarh Correspondent Kamruzzaman Tutul and the Daily Karatoa’s Shamsuddin Chowdhury Kalam, were hurt.
The protesters marched in small groups to gather in the town’s Chourongi intersection for a bigger procession after Jum’ah prayers.
The police tightened security in the town ahead of the protest programme after the Ahmadiyya announced a three-day Jalsa Salana, a religious gathering of the minority Muslim community, at Ahmadnagar on the outskirts of the town.
Abdul Latif Mia, chief of Panchagarh Sadar Police Station, said clashes began when the protesters started throwing brickbats at the law enforcers.
Several people, including three policemen, were injured in the clashes, according to him.
The protesters torched a traffic police office at Dhakkamara as police fired teargas, he said. Police and Border Guard Bangladesh vehicles were damaged in attacks by the protesters.
Besides BGB, the authorities deployed the Rapid Action Battalion to the town.
As tension mounted, owners closed shops across Panchagarh town during anti-Ahmadiyya protests on Friday, Mar 3, 2023.
Witnesses said the protesters vandalised several shops owned by Ahmadiyya people at Panchagarh Bazar. They dragged out and burnt the goods from the shops.
The protesters vandalised and set fire to several homes of the Ahmadiyyas at Ahmadnagar in the afternoon.
Police officer Latif said the Fire Service and Civil Defence brought the fire under control.
Abdul Rahim, a local journalist, said more than 10 homes were torched or vandalised. “Many Ahmadiyya families have fled the area.”
As tension mounted, owners closed shops across the town. The general public hunkered down at home. The protesters burnt tyres on some roads, bringing traffic to a complete halt.
Categories: Ahmadis, Ahmadiyyat: True Islam, Asia, Bangla, Bangladesh
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