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4 killed in post-poll violence in Bangladesh, minority leaders demand protection

Clashes between activists of the ruling Awami League and ally Jatiya Party turned violent.

Dhaka |
Updated: January 7, 2014 11:45:40 am
Activists of Bangladesh Jamaat-E-Islami set fire to an office of ruling party on election day (Reuters) Activists of Bangladesh Jamaat-E-Islami set fire to an office of ruling party on election day (Reuters)

Four people were killed in Bangladesh on Monday when clashes broke out between supporters of ruling Awami League and one of its allies on the outskirts of the capital, taking the death toll to 25 in poll-related violence.

Four people, including a man and his son, were killed and 15 others wounded in a clash between activists of the ruling Awami League and its ally Jatiya Party (JP) in Dohar sub district, reports said.

Two of the injured were sent to Dhaka in a critical condition.

JP candidate Salma Islam, who was recently inducted in the cabinet as a junior minister, defeated Abdul Mannan Khan who was the state minister for works.

The two contested the polls yesterday, though in most places the two parties managed to reach a consensus in fielding common candidates.

The main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)-led 18 party alliance boycotted the polls and spearheaded a violent campaign to thwart the elections along with its key-ally fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami.

Twenty-one people were killed in poll-related violence yesterday, minority leaders demand more protection for their communities Human rights groups and Hindu leaders in Bangladesh today demanded more security for religious minorities amid reports that members of the community were attacked in several parts of the country during elections.

Minority communities seek more protection

Activists of main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its key-ally fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami attacked Hindu households in western Jessore and northwestern Dinajpur, local media reports said.

The Daily Star and several other newspapers said the activists vandalised 130 Hindu houses and torched another 10 in Malopara village as they went to cast votes defying the opposition call for the boycott.

Police, however, said 70 to 80 men attacked the village but joint forces comprising police and paramilitary Border Guard Bangladesh chased them away.

The activists threatened the Hindus of dire consequence for voting, sparking panic and prompting the army “striking forces” intervention.

“We were on election duty. In spite of that we rushed here to protect the villagers,” Maj Rahman last night said, adding that a temporary police camp was installed at the area.

“Some 400 Hindus were forced to flee their homes and take refuge on the other side of the local Bhairab river fearing fresh attacks,” Bangladesh Hindu-Bouddho-Cristian Oikya Parishad vice president Kajal Debnath said.

Other reports said Hindus came under attack also at Pornia area in northwestern Dinajpur overnight where the opposition activists severely assaulted 10 elderly people of the community and vandalised over 10 houses for defying their calls for election boycott.

But the army intervened, forcing the activists to flee.

“We demand intensified protection…we don’t want to be traded off politically or used for anybody’s political purpose,” Debnath said in an apparent reference to a perception that the Hindus were traditionally supporters of Awami League, which pursue a policy of secularism.

He added: “Keep me (Hindus) beyond (political) focus, I don’t want to be a victim.”

According to media reports, only a small number of Hindus cast their votes in north-western Lalmonirhat and southwestern Satkhira either fearing attacks by opposition activists.

They said most of the Hindu villagers were annoyed with the government for not taking adequate steps for their protection during earlier such attacks in recent months when the opposition spearheaded anti-government campaigns.

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