Tensions over Jalsa, an annual gathering of the Ahmadiyya community, have been going on for a long time
March 4, 2023 2:09 PM
At least two people were killed, and over three dozen were injured in a clash over an Ahmadiyya Salana Jalsa in Panchagarh on Friday.
The deceased have been identified as Arifur Rahman, 30, and Jahid Hasan, 22.
Several reports on the incident indicate that Arifur Rahman was killed during the clash that took place after Jummah prayers on Friday.
Confirming the matter, Councilor Majedur Rahman Chowdhury Iran of ward no 2 of Panchagarh municipality said that Arifur died during the chase-counter chase between the protestors and police.
On the other hand, regarding Jahid’s death, Salana Jalsa Convener Ahmed Tafseer Chowdhury alleged that he was murdered by some protesters.
He has claimed that the protestors took him to the Karatoya River and stabbed him to death.
Jahid belonged to the Ahmadiyya community and was a resident of the Banpara area of Natore.
A religious program of the Ahmadiyya community, known as Salana Jalsa, in Panchagarh town came under fierce attack on Friday, prompting the police to fire bullets and charge batons to restore law and order.
During the clash, the police fired more than 100 rounds of rubber bullets and tear gas shells to disperse the stone-pelting protesters, witnesses said. Several houses and shops were also reportedly vandalized.
Some journalists covering the violence were among the injured.
Tensions over Jalsa, an annual gathering of the Ahmadiyya community, have been going on for a long time in the area.
Some Islamic groups in Bangladesh consider Ahmadis, also known as Qadianis, to be non-muslims and want a ban on the sect’s activities.
Like every year, Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat organized the three-day-long annual Salana Jalsa in Panchagarh’s Ahmednagar on Friday.
Sammilito Khatme Nabuwat Sangrakkhan Parishad, Iman Akida Rakkha Committee and Islami Juba Samaj staged a similar attack centring the Jalsa on February 13, 2019 where more than 150 people were injured.
However, law enforcement agencies have yet to provide information about which organization staged Friday’s attack.
Since 1963, over a dozen Ahmadis have been killed and scores of others injured or assaulted in separate incidents across Bangladesh. Moreover, their mosques are also targeted by Islamists.
In the face of growing demands during the Hefazat-e-Islam’s movement in 2013, the government explained why it cannot do so.
The Constitution of Bangladesh, which recognizes Islam as the state religion, also ensures rights of all other religions, irrespective of race, caste, sex or place of birth. Moreover, secularism and freedom of religion is one of the fundamental principles of state policy.
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