Bhola, Oct 20 (UNB) – Four people were killed and about 200 others were injured on Sunday in a clash between police and demonstrating locals in Borhanuddin upazila, demanding punishment of a youth for allegedly hurting religious sentiments on Facebook.
Dr Abul Kalam Azad, medical officer of Bhola Sadar Hospital, named the deceased as Mizan, Mahfuz Patwari, Shaheen and Mahbub Patwari.
Police said two of them had been hit in their heads with blunt weapons.
Thirty people, who suffered gunshot wounds, were admitted to Barishal Sher-e-Bangla Medical College Hospital, said Dr Abul Hasnat Russell of the hospital’s emergency department.
They were hospitalised between 1:30pm and 5pm, he added.
Police and locals said messages containing derogatory remarks about Allah and Prophet Muhammad were sent to several persons from the Facebook ID of Biplob Chandra Shuvo. Screenshots of the messages went viral on Facebook, triggering condemnation and protests.
Md Enamul Haque, officer-in-charge of Borhanuddin Police Station, said Biplob came to them on Saturday to file a general diary claiming that his Facebook account had been hacked.
“Biplob claimed the hackers had demanded money from him over phone,” he said, adding that two persons – Hasnine Sharif and Shakil – were detained over the hacking.
Bhola police chief Sarkar Mohammad Kaisar said they held a meeting with locals, public representatives, Imams and Islamic scholars who had promised not to go ahead with Sunday’s protest programme.
But preparations to hold the programme were underway, prompting police to visit the scene, the SP said.
“When we were leaving the place after the rally, some people started throwing brick chips at us, forcing us to take shelter in an adjoining building and fire blank shots,” the SP said.
Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Shafiqur Rahman blamed “outsiders” for the clash, saying that there has been no report so far to indicate the public were armed.
Constable Arif, who suffered a gunshot wound during the clash, is currently being treated at the Combined Military Hospital in Dhaka, he said.
Meanwhile, one platoon of border guards was sent to the spot by helicopter while three more platoons were on their way by road, said Md Shariful Islam, public relations officer at Border Guard Bangladesh headquarters.
That would be in addition to the platoon dispatched by the Coast Guard already deployed at the spot, said Lt Hayat-Ibne-Siddique, media officer at Coast Guard headquarters.
Protest rally called; probe bodies formed
A protest rally was called for Monday at Bhola Government High School under the banner of All Party Muslim Unity Council, said Maulana Ataur Rahman, secretary of Islami Andolan Bangladesh’s Bhola unit.
He said a meeting was held with the authorities at Borhanuddin Police Station at night where they demanded justice for the victims, compensation to their families, and steps against the perpetrators.
Local parliamentarian Ali Azam said the families of the victims will receive financial assistance.
Barishal Divisional Commissioner Md Yamin Chowdhury said a three-member investigation committee was formed to look into the incident.
The committee has been asked to file a report within three working days.
In a statement, police headquarters said it formed a five-member committee, headed by the Barishal range DIG. Representatives from police headquarters, Special Branch, PBI and district police will be included in it.
The committee has been asked file its report within seven working days.