Bangladesh’s capital saw mayhem on an unprecedented scale over two days, caused by radical Islamists, who clashed with law enforcers, resulting in the death of at least 15 people.The government carried out a midnight drive, forcing them to flee Dhaka on Sunday .

Aided by Jamaat-e-Islami and its student wing, thousands of members of the Hefazat-e-Islam threw Molotov cocktails and set on fire and looted banks and offices. They also burnt down scores of vehicles, including those belonging to police and paramilitary forces on Sunday. BNP chief and former Premier Khaleda Zia, who on Saturday issued a 48-hour ultimatum to the government to restore the scrapped caretaker government system to hold elections, lent support to the Hefazat, asking her supporters to rally around the radicals. The party higher ups will decide the course of action soon.

Dhaka woke up to rattling gunshots and explosions early on Monday as the joint forces of police, paramilitary Bangladesh Border Guard (BGB) and the elite Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) closed in on the thousands of Hefajat activists, in what turned out to be a decisive drive to flush them out of Dhaka.

The Hefajat men vowed not to leave the area until their 13 demands were met, took shelter in various alleys only to be chased out or arrested by the joint forces who conducted a 15-minutes drive slightly past midnight on Sunday.

The demands include curbs on women’s rights — including on free mixing between men and women in public — abolition of the national women development policy and enactment of anti-blasphemy law, which the Sheikh Hasina government refused to accept.

Hefazat’s chief Shah Ahmad Shafi was expected to roll out its new agitation programmes, but did not join the rally, citing security reasons. The octogenarian Islamist was sent away to Chittagong on Monday from his Lalbagh camp.

Hours after law enforcers flushed the Hefazat men out of Dhaka, they dismantled the Ganajagaran Mancha at Shahbagh, which has been demanding capital punishment for the war criminals.

Since its inception on February 5, the Shahbagh youth-uprising had been drawing thousands.


Clashes continue in Dhaka; 3 killedMay 5, 2013