Bangladesh opposition leader arrested after anti-government protest turns into clash with police

A Dhaka court on Sunday ordered the arrest of Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, secretary-general of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), and dozens of members of the BNP after a major opposition protest held on Saturday in Dhaka.

The demonstration, with over 100,000 protesters, spawned clashes between protesters and police. A police officer was killed during the protest and over 100 people were injured.

The protesters accused the Bangladeshi government of holding a unilateral and controlled election and demanded “a fair and impartial election” under a non-partisan neutral government. The October 28 protest is a part of the larger “BNP plan” to get the incumbent Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and his government out of power.

The opposition leaders proclaimed the protest to be a peaceful rally and accused the police of attacking protesters with rubber bullets, sound grenades and tear gas shells, which led to the suspension of the rally. The Dhaka Metropolitan Police, on the other hand, called the protest “massive vandalism” and accused the BNP of attacking and opening fire on several venues, including the residence of Bangladesh’s chief justice, the Central Police Hospital in Rajabagh, and various police boxes and police vehicles. The police also attributed the death of a police officer to a beating by BNP protesters.

The police brought charges of attacking the chief justice’s residence against the BNP leader in front of the Dhaka Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Court on Saturday night and requested that he be kept in jail for further investigation. On Sunday, Dhaka Metropolitan Magistrate, Shafi Uddin, rejected the bail plea from Fakhrul’s lawyer and ordered him to be arrested pursuant to the request of the police. A group of pro-BNP lawyers rallied at the district court premises to protest the court’s decision.

Notably, apart from Fakhrul, a total of 59 opposition leaders and activists have been accused of attacking the chief justice’s residence.