DACA (AP) – At least four people were killed and many injured in violent protests in Bangladesh on Friday sparked by the arrival of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to participate in celebrations of the country’s 50th anniversary of independence.
The violence occurred when students from a prominent Islamic school and members of an Islamist group clashed with police in the southern district of Chattogram.
Alauddin Talukder, a police officer at Chattogram Medical College Hospital, told reporters that five injured people were taken to the hospital and four of them died during treatment. No further details could be confirmed.
Local press reported that members of the Islamist group Hefazat-e-Islam, which has a network of schools, attacked government buildings, including a police station and a land office, in the Hathazari area of Chattogram before police intervened. .
Clashes broke out between groups of protesters at Dhaka’s main mosque and police dispersed the crowd using tear gas and rubber bullets, resulting in many injuries, officials and witnesses said.
The protesters also set fire to the offices of a railway station in the eastern district of Brahmanbaria, affecting train communications.
Modi’s visit, his first abroad since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, will include commemorations of the centenary of the birth of Bangladesh’s independence leader, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the father of the current prime minister, Sheikh Hasina.
Hasina, India’s key partner in efforts to maintain regional stability, met Modi at the airport on Friday morning.
Many accuse Modi and his Hindu nationalist party of fueling religious polarization in India and discrimination against minorities, especially Muslims. In recent weeks, protesters in Bangladesh have called on the Indian ruler not to visit and chanted slogans against India and against Modi. They also criticized Hasina for inviting him.