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Bid to ‘capture’ Ahmadia mosque turns violent

The Daily Star, Bangladesh
Nov. 22, 2003 • Sunday November 23, 2003

50 including 18 cops injured

At least 50 people including 18 policemen were injured in twin attacks by anti-Ahmadia Muslims on law-enforcers near an Ahmadia mosque at Nakhalpara in Tejgaon before and after the Juma prayers yesterday.

The mob snatched two police motorbikes and set them ablaze at Mohakhali in the swell of violence stemming from disputes over offering of prayers at the mosque.

Police and witnesses said the incident ensued when some 500 anti-Ahmadia Muslims marched towards East Nakhalpara Ahmadia Mosque shortly after noon for what they called freeing the mosque from non-Muslims.

The bid to oust the Ahmadias from the mosque and capture it for ‘the real Muslims’ was the second in 15 hours since the first such attack after Tarabi prayers Thursday night.

The marchers gathered at the Rahim Metal Mosque in Tejgaon to join a meeting there before Khatib (head preacher) of the mosque, Mahmudul Hasan Momtazi, led a procession to the Ahmadia mosque.

About 200 policemen stationed at the mosque in the wake of Thursday’s attack intercepted them.

The mob became violent and tried to break through the police cordon. The attackers hurled brickbats at the policemen, as they clubbed the procession, leaving 10 people injured.

The injured were admitted to the Metropolitan Hospital in Tejgaon.

Later during khutba (sermon) of Juma prayers, the Khatib branded the Ahmadias as Kaffir (non-Muslims) saying they do not follow Prophet Mohammed and demanded declaration of the Ahmadia sect as non-Muslim and the closure of the mosque.

The protesters gathered in front of the Nabisco Biscuit and Bread Factory in Tejgaon after the prayers. Addressing a demonstration there, Khatib Mahmudul Hasan Momtazi and other leaders asked ‘the real Muslims’ to wage a jihad against the ‘Kaffir Kadianis’.

The speakers asked the mob to get ‘properly equipped’ and head to the Ahmadia Mosque to evict the sect members.

Armed with bamboo and wooden sticks and brickbats, about 5,000 people took out a procession toward the mosque, shouting anti-Ahmadia slogans.

Hundreds of anti-Ahmadia mobs tried to break through six police barricades put up around the mosque and began to beat up the policemen.

Attacked from various directions, police called for reinforcements and over 300 policemen joined them to disperse the marauding mob in an attack that left 20 protesters and passersby injured.

Police fired 70 teargas canisters, inciting a protester into hurling a homemade bomb at the law-enforcers.

They also clubbed the attackers, leaving more than 10 injured.

Eighteen policemen, injured in the mob violence, were rushed to Police Hospital at Rajarbagh.

The wave of violence died out at about 4:00pm after hours of attacks and counter-attacks. Many of the anti-Ahmadia Muslims offered Asr prayers on the road.

Ahmadia leader and owner of the mosque land, Rafiq Ahmad, said, “Khatib Mahmudul Hasan Momtazi has been spreading smear against us since 1992 and was conspiring to oust us from here.”

“We are Muslims and follow the ideals of Prophet Mohammed and have been praying at this mosque since 1947,” he said.

“As the Khatib and his followers were inciting people against us, we filed a general diary with Tejgaon Police Station on November 6.”

Home Secretary Omar Farooq and Commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police Ashraful Huda, visiting the scene, directed the law-enforcers to prevent the rerun of the violence.

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