Modi’s Go to to Bangladesh Units Off Violent Protests

DHAKA, Bangladesh — At the least 4 individuals had been killed and dozens injured in violent protests in Bangladesh on Friday, set off by the arrival of Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India to mark 50 years since Bangladesh gained independence.

The deaths occurred within the southeastern district of Chattogram, the place college students from a outstanding Islamic college and members of an Islamist group clashed with the police, officers mentioned.

Alauddin Talukder, a police official, advised reporters that 5 injured individuals had been taken to a Chattogram hospital and that 4 had died throughout therapy.

Throughout Mr. Modi’s two-day go to, his first overseas for the reason that coronavirus pandemic started, he can even commemorate the centennial of the delivery of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the Bangladeshi independence chief whose daughter, Sheikh Hasina, is now prime minister.

Ms. Hasina, who’s seen by India as a key accomplice in sustaining regional stability, welcomed Mr. Modi at the airport on Friday morning.

Critics in India and elsewhere have accused Mr. Modi’s Hindu nationalist occasion of stoking religious polarization in India and discriminating in opposition to minorities, notably Muslims. In latest weeks, demonstrators in Muslim-majority Bangladesh have urged Mr. Modi to not go to and criticized Ms. Hasina for inviting him.

Bangladeshi information retailers reported on Friday that members of an Islamist group had attacked authorities buildings, together with a police station, within the Hathazari space of Chattogram earlier than the clashes that led to the deaths.

Violence additionally broke out on the Baitul Mokarram mosque in Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital, as rival teams of demonstrators clashed. Law enforcement officials used tear gasoline and rubber bullets to disperse the gang, injuring scores of individuals, officers and witnesses mentioned.

Protesters additionally set fireplace to workplaces at a railway station within the japanese district of Brahmanbaria, disrupting communications.

Exterior the Baitul Mokarram mosque, tons of of protesters had gathered by Friday afternoon. Witnesses mentioned the clashes began after one faction of protesters started waving their footwear in an indication of contempt for Mr. Modi, and one other group tried to cease them.

Native information retailers mentioned the protesters who tried to cease the shoe-waving had been aligned with Ms. Hasina’s governing Awami League occasion. TV broadcasts confirmed some protesters throwing stones on the police, who had been sustaining a heavy presence close to the mosque. One channel reported that at the very least 40 individuals had been injured within the clashes, together with some journalists.

Abdul Mazid, a businessman, mentioned he was trapped within the mosque after attempting to flee when violence erupted throughout prayers. “I had a sense that one thing was going to occur. I’m nonetheless contained in the mosque,” he mentioned by phone. “There may be enormous violence, I can see from right here.”

After Mr. Modi’s arrival, Ms. Hasina advised an viewers in a parade sq. in Dhaka that Bangladesh’s relations with India had reached a brand new excessive. “If we transfer ahead hand in hand, the event of our individuals is inevitable,” she mentioned.

Whereas Mr. Modi’s journey is especially targeted on Bangladesh’s anniversary celebrations, the go to additionally has political implications in India, the place voting begins on Saturday in a number of state-level elections, together with West Bengal, which borders Bangladesh.

With a watch towards galvanizing Hindu assist in that battleground state, Mr. Modi is scheduled to go to a Hindu temple exterior Dhaka that’s sacred to the Matua neighborhood in West Bengal. The Matua sect’s vote may resolve at the very least seven seats in an in depth race for management of the state meeting.

In a tweet late Thursday earlier than his journey, Mr. Modi mentioned the 2 nations shared an important relationship.

“Our partnership with Bangladesh is a vital pillar of our Neighborhood First coverage, and we’re dedicated to additional deepen and diversify it. We’ll proceed to assist Bangladesh’s exceptional improvement journey, below Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s dynamic management,” he mentioned.

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