4 killed in protests against Modi at Bangladesh Independence Day celebration

By Azad Majumder

Dhaka, Mar 26 (efe-epa).- The 50th Independence Day celebrations of Bangladesh turned somber Friday after police allegedly shot dead four protesters demonstrating against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s.

More than 50 people were also wounded as protesters clashed with police in Chittagong and Dhaka.

They were protesting against the government’s move to host Modi to cap the 10-day celebrations attended earlier by leaders from Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, and the Maldives.

The Indian leader arrived in Dhaka on Friday morning as the country wrapped up the celebrations of independence and the birth centenary of founding president Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the father of current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Rahman led the country’s struggle for freedom from Pakistan before it finally became independent in 1971.

Modi joined Hasina at the final event of the day after visiting the National Martyrs’ Memorial on the Dhaka outskirts.

“Their valor will continue to inspire future generations to fight injustice and defend the cause of righteousness,” the Indian prime minister wrote in the visitors’ book at the memorial.

Protests were also held on Thursday across Bangladesh as Islamists called the Indian prime minister an “extremist” who is unwelcome in Bangladesh.

Hefazat-e-Islam, a hardline Islamists group, said four of its activists lost their lives as police opened fire on protesters in the Hathazari area of Chittagong.

“We brought a peaceful protest against the visit of Narendra Modi. Police fired live bullets on us. Four of our activists were killed and at least 10 injured,” Hefazat spokesman Azizul Islam told EFE.

Police sub-inspector Alauddin Talukdar at Chittagong Medical College Hospital confirmed the death of four protesters.

“Four people were declared dead after they were taken to the hospital. A few other injured people were also taken to the hospital,” Talukdar said.

In Dhaka, several Islamist groups protested against the visit of Modi.

The protest began near Baitul Mukarram National Mosque after Friday prayers as the Islamists tried to break off the police barricade, resulting in a clash.

Dhaka Medical College Hospital police outpost in-charge Bacchu Mia told EFE at least 58 people received treatment at the hospital, many of them belonging to the ruling Bangladesh Awami League.

“One of the injured persons is admitted to the hospital in critical condition,” he said.

Mahfuzur Rahman Shovan, one of the protesters in Dhaka, told EFE that they did not want Modi in Bangladesh “because he is an extremist, he has killed many Muslims in Kashmir.”

He was referring to India’s Muslim-majority region, where the increasing direct control of New Delhi and repression by Indian security forces has come under criticism.

In the meanwhile, global rights watchdogs, including Human Rights Watch, reminded the nations joining the celebrations that Bangladeshis are “enduring an escalating crackdown on human rights” by the Awami League-led government.

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