Narayanganj city Mayor Selina Hayat Ivy yesterday alleged that an attempt was made to kill her from just “two yards away” during Tuesday's mayhem on Bangabandhu Road in Chashara.
"I will take legal steps... 100 to 150 people were wounded. I suffered injuries in my leg. I was unarmed and so were my people," she told reporters at her Nagar Bhaban office.
The mayor was briefing journalists a day after supporters of local Awami League lawmaker Shamim Osman allegedly attacked Ivy and her followers over eviction of street hawkers, leading to a fierce clash. Ivy and around 50 others were injured.
Meanwhile, Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader said the party high command summoned Ivy and Osman for explanation over Tuesday's incident.
Giving an account of the incident, Ivy said she did not go there to fight, rather she wanted to tell hawkers to clear the street and sell goods at the hawkers' market built by the city corporation.
"We walked down the footpath to the press club to hold a press conference there. But we came under attack before we could reach there. Brickbats started raining down on us. An attempt was made to kill me from two yards away," she said.
A three-member body, led by Additional Deputy Commissioner (revenue) Jashim Uddin Haider, has been formed to probe the incident. It will submit a report within a week.
No case was filed as of last night. However, a general diary was lodged with Narayanganj Sadar Model Police Station over the brandishing of a firearm by Jubo League leader Niazul Islam, allegedly loyal to Osman.
Tension still ran high in the city yesterday with a large number of law enforcers deployed at various points. Hawkers were not spotted on the footpaths in Chashara.
At the press conference, Ivy said, "He [Osman] made an announcement the day before [Monday] and told police that 'this is my order, not a request, that hawkers will be on footpaths from 4:00pm'. And this man can do anything if he wants.
“I am the mayor and he is my party lawmaker. He did this on his own and I don't know why he had done this.”
Ivy further said she wanted to free Bangabandhu Road from hawkers as the city corporation built a hawkers' market that can accommodate 1,500 to 2,000 hawkers.
"Footpaths and roads -- everything belongs to people. Don't I have the right to keep the footpaths clear for pedestrians? Why hawkers will sit there on the MP's order? Then why did I build the market for them?" she added.
At a separate press conference at the Rifle Club yesterday, Osman claimed that shots had been fired from Ivy's procession on Tuesday.
"It was not a fight between Ivy and I, rather it was a clash between the hawkers and Ivy. Some people were trying to distort the facts. No one is telling the truth. The shots were fired from Ivy's procession," he claimed.
The AL lawmaker said he stood by the hawkers because Ivy's decision to evict them would affect them and also the AL that gave her nomination for the 2016 mayoral elections.
"I will work for the poor even if I have to leave my party," he said.
Defending Niazul who brandished a firearm during the clash, Osman said it was being reported that Niazul is his supporter.
"But the truth is he [Niazul] is our party activist. He was beaten thrice while he was walking on the Bangabandhu Road. He had no choice but to pull out his pistol as he was being beaten for the fourth time. His pistol was lost during the incident."
The AL lawmaker, however, said that if Niazul had opened fire, there should be a probe into the matter.
STEPS WILL BE TAKEN
Obaidul Quader yesterday warned of taking organisational action against the party men who were involved in Tuesday's incident.
"I have talked to the prime minister [also the AL chief] in this regard. She said organisational steps will be taken against those involved in the incident,” Quader said at a press conference at the AL president's political office in Dhanmondi.
The AL general secretary said he requested the home minister to launch a probe into the incident and take legal action against the agitators if they had used firearms.
REASONS BEHIND CLASH
Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives Minister Khandker Mosharraf Hossain said jealousy and rivalry between Osman and Ivy led to Tuesday's clash, reports UNB.
Referring to the two Narayanganj leaders, the minister said, "Both of you are in power. What can we do if you fight each other?"
About the eviction drive in Narayanganj, he said, "The person who launched the eviction drive is an elected mayor while the person who opposed it is also an elected public representative. But it is not right to do something using muscle power. Why will hawkers occupy footpaths?"
The Narayanganj deputy commissioner issued a directive that the hawkers would be allowed to run business today on footpaths except for that on Bangabandhu Road.
Hawkers, however, refused to comply with the directive.
"The hawkers will do business on the footpaths of Bangabandhu Road. Most of them sell goods there," said Asadul Islam Asad, convener of Narayanganj Zila Hawkers' Sangram Parishad.
DEMO BY JOURNOS
Members of Narayanganj Press Club and Narayanganj District Journalists' Union yesterday formed a human chain and held a rally in front of Narayanganj Press Club in Chashara, protesting the attacks on journalists during Tuesday's mayhem.
At least 12 journalists, including Narayanganj Press Club General Secretary Sharifuddin Sabuj, were injured that day.
Yesterday, they demanded that Niazul and others responsible for this be arrested within 24 hours. Otherwise, they will boycott all programmes of the administration and politicians in Narayanganj city.
They will form a human chain in front of the Jatiya Press Club in the capital today.
Abdul Jalil Bhuiyan, former secretary general of Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists (BFUJ), Halim Azad, former president of Narayanganj Press Club, and Abdus Salam, president of Narayanganj District Journalists Union, among others, spoke at the programmes.
[Our Narayanganj Correspondent contributed to this report]