Bangladesh Nationalist Party leaders and activists along with the family members of the victims of enforced disappearance and political killings formed a human chain in the capital, marking the international Human Rights Day on Sunday.

The programme began formally with the recitation from the holy Quran at about 10:55am in front of the Jatiya Press Club with BNP standing committee member Selima Rahman in the chair.

Scores of people, including police and journalists, were injured as police and ruling party people carried out attacks on human chain programmes called by the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party on Sunday marking International Human Rights Day.

Though Dhaka’s events of the BNP and other opposition parties held peacefully, police and ruling party activists allegedly foiled the BNP’s human chain in many districts.

t least 50 people, including two journalists, were injured in a clash between police and BNP people during the party’s human chain programme in the Sayestanagar area of Habiganj.

Sylhet reported that at least five people injured in the clash in Habiganj were hit by bullets.

Habiganj district unit BNP joint convener Kamal Uddin Selim said that the leaders and activists of the party and its associate bodies were holding a human chain programme in front of the BNP office in the morning.

At one stage, police obstructed them, triggering a heated argument, which resulted in a clash around 12:30pm.

Police lobbed tear gas shells and fired rubber bullets to disperse the BNP activists, leaving around 50 people injured, he said.

The bullet-hit injured included two journalists—My TV correspondent Niranjan Goswami and Desh TV correspondent Amir Hamza.

abiganj Sadar police station officer-in-charge Ajay Chandra Dev said that six policemen were injured in the clash.

In Barishal, police foiled BNP’s human chain programme in front of Ashwini Kumar Hall in the city at about 11:00am.

BNP said that police attacked the party’s leaders and activists when they reached the spot with a procession marking Human Rights Day, leaving four people injured.

Barishal Kotwali officer-in-charge Anwar Hossain denied allegations of using force against BNP leaders and activists.

‘BNP leaders and activists were trying to gather there without prior permission. Upon our request, they later moved away from the spot. There was no use of force by the police, and no untoward incident occurred during that period,’ said Anwar.

The district north and south units of BNP later formed a human chain in front of Barishal Reporters Unity, protesting police action.

In Faridpur, the police allegedly foiled the human chain of BNP in Faridpur town’s Court Para area around 10:30am.

According to witnesses, the police appeared at the scene following the speeches of BNP leaders Ali Ashraf and Golam Rabbani. They barred the programme and asked the BNP supporters to leave the spot immediately.

As the BNP supporters continued their programme, defying police instructions, the police attempted to snatch the banner leading to a scuffle.

Faridpur district BNP joint convener Golam Rabbani alleged that the police took their banner away forcefully when they were holding their programme peacefully.

Kotwali police officer-in-charge MA Jalil denied the allegation and claimed that there was no programme at the particular spot.

‘No programme like a human chain was seen taking place, and therefore there was no incident of snatching a banner,’ he claimed.

Narayanganj, Thakurgaon, Munshiganj, Mymensingh, and Bandarban that police and ruling Awami League activists had foiled the BNP’s human chain.

BNP held the human chain programme countrywide, bringing the families of the opposition’s disappeared, killed, and arrested leaders and activists.

In Dhaka, the BNP organised a human chain in front of the National Press Club amid tight police security. Several hundred BNP activists joined the programme.

Addressing the human chain, BNP standing committee member Selima Rahman urged the people of the country to say no to the government.

We are requesting the people of the country to come to the streets and build resistance. We are doing a peaceful movement. They [authorities] are oppressing the people by creating baton forces and helmet forces. It won’t last long,’ she said.

‘Today the situation turns to such a stage that if the father is not found, the son is taken away, and if the son is not found, the mother is taken away. Maayer Daak made a human chain yesterday [Saturday]. A woman there said two murder cases have been filed against her... she is running away. This is the state of the country, this is the people of Bangladesh, and this is the human rights situation in Bangladesh,’ she said.

Besides BNP, Ganatantra Mancha held a human chain in front of the National Human Rights Commission office in Kawran Bazar, 12-party alliance and Nurul Haque Nur-led Gono Odhikar Parishad in Bijaynagar, Jatiyatabadi Samana Jote in front in Purana Paltan, Liberal Democratic Party in front of the National Press Club, Gono Forum and People’s Party jointly in High Court area, Democratic Left Unity in the press club area, Labour Party in Topkhana Road, Reza Kibria-led Gono Odhikar Parishad in front of the party office in Purana Paltan, and AB Party in Bijoy Nagar area.

BNP and its allies in the ongoing movement on Sunday announced a 36-hour road-rail-waterway blockade across the country starting Tuesday morning, demanding the resignation of the ruling Awami League, handing over state power to a party-neutral polls-time administration, and cancellation of the January 7 polls schedule.

It will be the 11th round of the blockade programme of the opposition parties since October 31.

The blockade will begin at 6:00am on Tuesday and end at 6:00pm on Wednesday.

Speaking at a virtual press briefing, BNP senior joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi called upon the country’s people and the supporters of BNP and other opposition parties to observe the programme spontaneously to make it successful.