Activists of the local chapters of the ruling party and the BNP had gathered outside the UN headquarters on Friday to stage competing rallies when the skirmish broke out.
The attacks were perpetrated by activists and leaders of the Jamaat-e-Islam and its youth front Chhatra Shibir who were there under the BNP’s banner, alleged the Awami League leaders.
According to witnesses, the Awami League activists were shouting slogans in support of Hasina which were countered by the BNP supporters. But tensions mounted when the BNP activists made derisory chants about the prime minister, raising the ire of their rivals. An altercation subsequently broke out between the two sets of activists and at one point, a few members of the BNP rally launched an attack on the Awami League loyalists.
“Chhatra Shibir leaders under BNP’s banner hurled brickbats which injured two Awami League activists,” said New York Metropolitan Awami League’s Acting President Zakaria Chowhdhury.
The New York Police subsequently detained two people in a bid to subdue the unrest before releasing them later.
The two sides later conducted their programmes separately under police watch.
On the attacks on the Awami League rally, US BNP’s former senior vice president and a member of Bangladesh Society’s Board of Trustees Delwar Hossain said, “I don’t know the people who were involved in the attack.”
“They are not BNP activists. Maybe they are supporters. But the BNP cannot take responsibility for the acts of these over-excited people because we observed a peaceful programme with the authorities’ permission.”