Matuail turned into a battleground as clashes erupted between BNP activists and ruling party activists along with police in and around the area today.
The opposition initially planned their programme in front of Danila College at Jatrabari, but due to the huge presence of law enforcers and AL activists, they had to relocate to Matuail. Witnesses reported that the first clash occurred around 11:30am between the cops and BNP members, who were holding a sit-in in front of the Institute of Child and Mother Health.
The police dispersed the protesters by firing tear gas shells and chasing them while they entered different alleys in Matuail. The clashes continued until 1:15pm in phases, and the traffic movement on the Dhaka-Chattogram Highway was suspended till noon.
Traffic movement was also obstructed till 3:30pm due to multiple processions by the ruling party on the highway.
Whenever BNP activists tried to regroup for their sit-in the area, they were chased away.
AL members, armed with sticks, and police were seen chasing them away around 12:50pm. Tear gas and stones were also used, forcing BNP to retreat. AL men and police again chased the BNP men when they tried to hold a sit-in in the area after emerging from an alley. Tear gas and stones were used, forcing the BNP men to retreat.
One person was injured during the clashes, while several others were detained by police at the spot.
Meanwhile, three buses, including a Gulistan-bound Swadesh Paribahan bus, a Turag Paribahan minibus, and a Trisha Travels bus, were torched.
The driver of the Trisha Travels bus, Md Sanaullah, recounted that three men on a motorcycle ordered him to get off the bus before setting it on fire with petrol.
“Will you get off the bus, or shall we set it on fire with you inside?” the driver quoted the arsonists as asking.
The driver immediately got out.
Meanwhile, members of the Chhatra League, Jubo League, and Awami League were seen taking positions in every alley at Matuail, along with law enforcer, including Armed Police Battalion (APBn).
Around 1:20pm, a Rab team reached the spot to bring the situation under control.
Additional DIG Farid Uddin, commanding officer of Rab-10, said that an unstable situation arose on the highway as BNP activist positioned themselves, defying law and order.
He asserted that they would not tolerate any untoward incidents on highways.
According to Ziaul Ahsan Talukder, deputy commissioner of Wari Division Police, the BNP men torched at least seven vehicles.
At least 20 police personnel were injured during the clash, he said, adding that they detained several people but could not say the exact number immediately.
After 3:30pm, law enforcers and AL members were seen leaving the Matuail area. Brick chips were scattered, and armoured police vehicles, including riot cars and Armed Personnel Carriers, were also seen leaving the place.
Around 4:10pm, the correspondents found the situation to be normal as they were leaving Matuail.