Modi’s Go to to Bangladesh Units Off Violent Protests

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DHAKA, Bangladesh — At the least 4 folks have 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 distinguished Islamic faculty and members of an Islamist group clashed with the police, officers stated.

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

Throughout Mr. Modi’s two-day go to, his first overseas because the coronavirus pandemic started, he can even commemorate the centennial of the start 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 associate 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 social gathering of stoking non secular polarization in India and discriminating in opposition to minorities, notably Muslims. In current weeks, demonstrators in Muslim-majority Bangladesh have urged Mr. Modi to not go to and criticized Ms. Hasina for inviting him.

Bangladeshi information shops 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 group, injuring scores of individuals, officers and witnesses stated.

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

Outdoors the Baitul Mokarram mosque, a whole bunch of protesters had gathered by Friday afternoon. Witnesses stated the clashes began after one faction of protesters started waving their sneakers in an indication of contempt for Mr. Modi, and one other group tried to cease them.

Native information shops stated the protesters who tried to cease the shoe-waving have been aligned with Ms. Hasina’s governing Awami League social gathering. 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 no less than 40 folks have been injured within the clashes, together with some journalists.

Abdul Mazid, a businessman, stated he was trapped within the mosque after making an attempt 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 stated by phone. “There may be big 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 folks is inevitable,” she stated.

Whereas Mr. Modi’s journey is especially centered 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 an eye fixed 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 might determine no less than seven seats in an in depth race for management of the state meeting.

In a tweet late Thursday earlier than his journey, Mr. Modi stated the 2 international locations shared a significant 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 outstanding growth journey, below Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s dynamic management,” he stated.

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