Jamaat leader laid to rest amid violent Bangladesh protests

Published August 16, 2023
This aerial photo shows supporters of Delwar Hossain Sayedee, gathered to offer prayers during his funeral at Pirojpur district on August 15. — AFP
This aerial photo shows supporters of Delwar Hossain Sayedee, gathered to offer prayers during his funeral at Pirojpur district on August 15. — AFP

DHAKA: Around 50,000 people attended Tuesday’s funeral for a Jamaat-i-Islami leader in Bangladesh, police said, after news of his death in prison sparked violent protests.

Delwar Hossain Sayedee, 83, was sentenced to death in 2013 for his role in the rape, murder and the persecution of Hindu Bangladeshis during the country’s independence war decades earlier. He was the vice president of the Jamaat.

Sayedee died on Monday after suffering a heart attack in a prison outside Dhaka, prompting protests in the capital that turned violent when police moved in to disperse them.

Heavy police security gua­rd­­ed the funeral in Sayedee’s ho­­metown, in the coastal Pirojpur district, where a huge crowd gathered to watch his body be laid to rest. “Some 50,000 people joined the funeral prayer,” deputy district police chief Sheikh Musta­fizur Rahman said, adding that the burial took place without incident.

But elsewhere in the country, one person was killed during a confrontation between police and a group attempting to hold a memorial ceremony for Sayedee. “They gathered and wanted to hold a funeral prayer, stoking a clash between them and police,” Chakaria duty police officer Md Selim Mia said.

“One person has died and some more have been injured inc­lu­ding our policemen,” he said.

News of Sayedee’s death on Monday night brought thousands of Jamaat supporters to the streets chanting anti-government slogans.

Police dispersed protests with rubber bullets and tear gas bef­ore dawn on Tuesday, Dhaka Met­­­ro­­politan Police spokesman Far­uk Hossain said. The police force said it had rejected an application by Jamaat to hold a post-funeral prayer in the capital.

Published in Dawn, August 16th, 2023

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