Bangladesh police yesterday used tear gas and rubber bullets against opposition protesters, as they clashed outside a makeshift court in Dhaka, where former prime minister Khaleda Zia appeared for
hearing in two graft cases.

The clashes began after activists of Chhatra League, the student wing of the ruling Bangladesh Awami League party, allegedly attacked a Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) procession minutes before Zia’s motorcade arrived, Xinhua reported.

Clashes outside the court continued even after Zia entered the school building to appear before a newly-appointed judge of Special Court, Abu Ahmed Jamadar.

A number of vehicles were damaged or set on fire in the

Several bomb explosions were heard during the clash but no casualties have been reported.

Traffic remained suspended for hours following the clashes, leaving dozens of people injured.

Thousands of BNP members had gathered in the court’s surrounding areas to welcome Zia.

Meanwhile, the activists of Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal, the student wing of BNP, allegedly torched the private car of a ruling party lawmaker, Chhabi Biswas, who was injured in
the clash.

Biswas suffered head injuries and was being treated at the emergency unit of the nearby Dhaka Medical College Hospital, where other injured people also received primary treatment.

“Some 22 people were injured in the clash. They took primary treatment at the hospital while MP Biwas has been admitted to the hospital,” an official at the facility said.

The situation, however, eased to a large extent after Zia left the court area.

The court has fixed January 7 for the deposition hearing of Zia, also chairperson of BNP, in the Zia Charitable Trust and Zia Orphanage Trust graft cases.

Bangladesh’s Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) filed one of the cases in July 2008, saying that Zia and five others, including her elder son Tarique Rahman, had embezzled over 20mn taka ($253,164) from an orphanage trust during her 2001-2006 term as prime minister.

In 2011, the anti-graft body sued the BNP chief and three others for pocketing 31.5mn taka of the Zia Charitable Trust in the name of her late husband, former president Ziaur Rahman.