Police disperse fans demanding 'symbolic punishment' for Ashraful

Dhaka, June 9 (IANS) Police Sunday morning prevented fans from holding their scheduled human-chain programme demanding "symbolic punishment" only for ex-Bangladesh cricket captain Mohammad Ashraful who last week confessed to his role in match-fixing.

Security has been beefed up around the Mirpur Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium here after the Ashraful fans were chased away, reports Xinhua.

Official sources said the fans who interacted through social media like Facebook started to flock to the stadium area to join the programme in small processions after 10:00 a.m. (local time).

According to witnesses, Ashraful fans, mostly students, gathered on the road in front of the stadium carrying banners and festoons inscribed with slogans beseeching the authorities to "Be kind to Ashraful" and "Give Ashraful symbolic punishment".

A few placards read "Please Forgive Ashraful", "Don't break our heart", and "Ashraful has been framed".

On receipt of information, police rushed to the scene and reportedly used baton charge to disperse the fans from the road before they could consolidate their position and chased them away.

Jashim Uddin, assistant deputy commissioner of police in downtown Mirpur, told Xinhua that they (Ashraful fans) tried to hold the human-chain programme without permission from the relevant authorities. "We can't allow them to hold the programme since they had no permission for the programme."

He, however, denied the allegation that police resorted to baton charge to disperse the crowd.

"They just left the scene as we asked them."

An Ashraful fan, who preferred to remain unnamed, said: "We requested the police to allow us to hold the human-chain but we've not been given permission." The fan said thousands of Facebook fans of Ashraful were expected to join the programme.

Ashraful, who became Bagladesh's youngest Test centurion in 2001 at the age of 17 and captained Bangladesh between 2007 and 2009, Tuesday apologised shortly after the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) suspended him from all forms of cricket.

BCB said it will take a final decision about Ashraful once the Anti Corruption Security Unit (ACSU) report is available.

BCB president Nazmul Hasan Papon made the announcement in a press briefing adding that "ACSU of the International Cricket Council (ICC) will publish its report on match fixing in Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) matches in 5 or 6 days".

"Ashraful had already admitted his involvement in fixing," Papon told reporters.

ACSU is probing allegations of match-fixing in the country's second professional cricket tournament named BPL. The ex-national captain is among those who are being questioned by the ACSU officials.

The allegations relate to two matches Ashraful's team Dhaka Gladiators played and lost against Chittagong Kings and Barisal Burners in February. Ashraful captained the Dhaka Gladiators to the BPL trophy.

The 28-year-old Ashraful, who played international cricket for the last 12 years, was only 17 year and 61 days old when he made his test match debut against Sri Lanka at the Sinhalese Sports Club ground Sep 6, 2001.

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