Year 1999

26 December 1999

First founding anniversary rally foiled by police

A mass rally was to be held at Chittagong in celebration of the first founding anniversary of the Party. All out preparations were taken and about two thousand people made it to Chittagong to take part in it. But before dawn, the police went to Laldighi Maidan and dismantled the dais and the canopy set up for the programme. Police arrested 45 UPDF members and supporters, including a guest speaker – Anu Muhammad, professor of Economics department, JahangirnagarUniversity. The police resorted to lathi charges to disperse the UPDF supporters who were coming to the meeting venue. The crackdown was so brutal, so ruthless that the police even refused to allow the participants to have their lunch at Waziullah Institute, which was also rented for the day. They seized lunch boxes and drove the participants from there as well. As a result the rally could not be held.

The Netherlands based Chittagong Hill Tracts Commission in its fourth update to its original report “Life is not Ours: Land and Human Rights in the Chittagong Hill Tracts” said:

“On 26 December 1999, the UPDF had organised a meeting on the occasion of its first anniversary, to be held in Chittagong city. Three thousand people were expected, including Bengali political leaders, women’s rights activists and university teachers. Reportedly, JSS-backed students tried to prevent participants from Khagrachari attending the meeting by calling for a road blockade programme in Khagrachari on 26 December. Consequently, the Deputy Commissioner imposed Section 144 in Khagrachari, meaning that hired buses from Khagrachari could not get to Chittagong. Several buses from Rangamati and Bandarban districts could not make it either, due to obstruction by police and JSS supporters, although some 2000 people did arrive. The UPDF had obtained permission for the programme but the Police Commissioner refused to allow the use of loudspeakers at the venue. The organisers thus shifted the venue to Shahid Minar, a public monument where no permission is needed to hold public meetings. However, the police reacted to the arrival of participants with baton charges and 45 persons were arrested, including Anu Muhammad, associate professor of JahangirnagarUniversity and Maruf Hasan Rumi of the Bangladesh Students’ Federation. The two Bengalis were released after the police discovered their identity. A number of participants were seriously injured. Following the police attack, the participants went to the auditorium of Waziullah Institute, which the organisers had also rented for that day and where lunch was prepared. The police arrived there too and summoned the people to leave the place immediately, not allowing them to eat their lunch.”

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