Bangladesh: US expresses concern over political violence in Dhaka

The United States has expressed concern over reports of political violence in Dhaka in the wake of events that took place on Wednesday leading to the death of a person and injuries to several others. Expressing concern over the event, US Ambassador to Dhaka Peter Haas called upon everyone to respect the rule of law and refrain from violence, harassment and intimidation.

The US embassy also extended ‘condolences to the families of those killed and injured in Dhaka’ on Wednesday. The statement further urged the authorities to investigate these reports of violence and ‘to protect the freedoms of expression, association, and peaceful assembly’.

Meanwhile, tension prevailed in the Naya Paltan area of Dhaka where police cordoned off the office of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) following violence on Wednesday. Police have registered cases against hundreds of people for the violent incident in which a person was killed and several others including some policemen were injured. After remaining closed for several hours, the road near the BNP office in the Naya Paltan area was opened in the afternoon on Thursday, but the road had only thin traffic as people preferred to remain indoors in Dhaka as a tense situation prevailed in the city.

Earlier, in the afternoon, BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir told media that BNP will hold its 10th December rally in front of the party’s central office at Naya Paltan in Dhaka. However, he said that BNP will consider a suitable alternative venue if the government makes a proposal. Meanwhile, a BNP delegation is holding a meeting with the Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) Commissioner to discuss an alternative venue for the rally.

Reiterating the government’s decision not to allow the 10th December rally of BNP to be held on the road in Naya Paltan area, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said on Thursday that the BNP would be offered an alternative venue for the event. He said there is no objection if BNP holds peaceful meeting but vandalism and harm to life and property will not be tolerated. The Home Minister said that the drive at Naya Paltan was started as the police recovered 15 unexploded hand grenades, rice, pulse and firewood from the BNP office. The BNP however, claimed that the hand grenades were put in its office by the police.

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