Dhaka: Violence continued unabated in Bangladesh for the second day on Friday as the death toll rose to at least 46 in clashes that erupted after a top leader of fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami was sentenced to death for "crimes against humanity" during the 1971 liberation war.
Fresh clashes on Friday claimed three lives in Gaibandha and Chapainawabganj districts while one policeman succumbed to his wounds sustained in on Thursday's clashes. With violence showing no signs of abating, paramilitary border guards have been deployed across the country to beef up security and ease tension that has gripped the nation.
Violence broke out after 73-year-old Delwar Hossain Sayedee, vice-president of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), was sentenced to death by International Crimes Tribunal on Thursday. At least 42 people were killed on Thursday in rioting triggered by the death sentence to Sayedee, who was found guilty of eight counts out of 20, involving rape, mass killings and atrocities during the 1971 freedom war against Pakistan.

  • 73-year-old Delwar Hossain Sayedee, vice-president of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), was sentenced to death
  • He was found guilty of eight counts out of 20 involving rape, mass killings and atrocities during the nine-month freedom war against Pakistan in 1971
  • Violent protests across Bangladesh after his arrest
  • Violence erupted as activists of JI clashed with security forces, denouncing the judgement
  • 42 killed so far in the clashes
  •  Paramilitary border guards deployed to beef up security

Officials said that law enforcement agencies appeared to be the prime target of the right-wing JI activists. The tense situation prompted local authorities to enforce ban on gathering of more than four people under section 144 of Criminal Procedure Code in troubled areas, five northwestern and one southwestern district, said to be JI strongholds.
Many people, including policemen, were injured when the supporters of Jamaat-e-Islami and its student wing Islami Chhatra Shibir clashed with police and ruling party men in different locations in the country. Police fired rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse Jamaat protesters in the capital Dhaka leaving several people injured, police said.
Meanwhile, in a major development main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) chief Khaleda Zia on Friday extended its open support to its extreme right-wing ally JI. Zia accused Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of influencing the war crimes trial. "No judge (of the war crimes tribunal) can now independently try the accused after her (Hasina's) call asking them to be sympathetic to the demands for death sentences to the war criminals," Zia told reporters.

JI earlier called for a 48-hour nationwide general strike from Sunday to mount pressures to thwart the trial process as Zia called an identical stoppage on Wednesday demanding resignation of the government. Sayedee was the third JI politician to be convicted by the International Crimes Tribunal since the trial of war crimes suspects, mostly belonging to the Islamist group, began three years ago.
In the first verdict of the tribunal in January, former Jamaat leader Abul Kalam Azad was sentenced to death on similar charges. Another Jamaat leader Abdul Quader Mollah was sentenced to life in February for atrocities during the war. "Our troops were deployed in 15 troubled districts in aide of civil administration... BGB (Border Guard Bangladesh) has been kept alert so it could move immediately wherever they are required," BGB chief major General Aziz Ahmed said.
A police spokesman, meanwhile, said law enforcement agencies were on high alert as Jamaat and Sayedee's supporters planned more protests. Meanwhile, several thousand people converged on Shahbagh intersection as the youths demanding death penalty to all war criminals started a public rally this afternoon. People from all walks of life imbued with the spirit of '71 started to throng the Shahbagh since noon as the demonstration stepped into 25th straight day. They chanted anti-Jamaat-Shibir slogans and anti-strike slogans.
Also, tens of thousands of youngsters, joined by 1971 veterans and ruling Awami League supporters, took to the streets in Dhaka and other major cities on Thursday to celebrate the verdict against Sayedee. Violence erupted on Thursday as activists of JI clashed with security forces, denouncing the judgement. With a policeman succumbing to his injuries on Friday, the number of security personnel killed in the violence has risen to five.


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