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Countrywide violence marks B'desh strike
Publication Date : 20-03-2013
The last day of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)-led alliance's 36-hour shutdown in Bangladesh yesterday was marked by cocktail explosions, vandalism, arson, picketing and arrests across the country.
The Dhaka city BNP enforces another dawn-to-dusk hartal (strike) in Dhaka tomorrow to press home its demand for releasing the 154 BNP leaders and activists arrested on March 11 from the party’s headquarters.
With the fresh call for shutdown, the alliance will have enforced 14 days of shutdowns since January 31.
Meanwhile, an engine and six coaches of Upaban Express, a Sylhet-bound train from Dhaka, veered off at Boranshal in Moulvibazar around 5:00am after miscreants removed several slippers from the tracks some time on Monday night.
No casualty was reported, but rail communications between Dhaka-Sylhet and Sylhet-Chittagong were snapped for about 13 hours before the line was repaired yesterday afternoon.
The violence also included the hacking to death of a leader belonging to the ruling Awami League's (AL) student wing, the Chhatra League. The victim, Imran Hossain, was a fourth-year student of Dhaka College.
BNP supporters were picketing at Konabari Avungi around 6:30am, but left the scene after supporters of the Awami League and its associate bodies chased them, said Shahjahan Miah, additional superintendent of police in Tangail.
Having regrouped, the pro-hartal activists returned later on and attacked Hossain with sharp weapons, leaving him critically injured, witnesses said.
Hossain, 25, was rushed to Tangail General Hospital, where he died.
On learning of his death, ruling party supporters vandalised the local BNP office and several shops owned by opposition party men in the municipal area.
Police detained 10 people in connection with the killing, said Monir Hossain, officer-in-charge of Gopalpur Police Station.
Meanwhile, pro-alliance activists clashed with the ruling party men and law enforcers in various other incidents in several districts around the country, leaving more than 100 people injured, according to our district correspondents.
In Dhaka, men from the BNP and the Islamist Jamaat-e-Islami party torched two vehicles, vandalised around 15 others, ransacked an ATM booth and exploded more than 35 cocktails at different places.
Pickets also set fire to a bus at Motijheel in the afternoon and a truck at Kodomtoli in the morning. They also damaged at least seven vehicles at Malibagh, three at Motijheel, a truck each at Jatrabari and Shyampur and three buses at Gabtoli Bus Terminal areas.
BNP acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir claimed at a press briefing that police yesterday arrested more than 400 of his party men, and another 300 party men were injured during the strike.
From March 17, he said, police arrested around 1,000 opposition people and filed false cases against 4,500 opposition men.
He expressed his dissatisfaction at the arson attacks on newspaper vehicles at different places in the country. He termed the incident “unexpected” and said some unidentified people carried out such attacks.
In Sunamganj, a fierce clash between activists of the ruling and opposition parities in the district town left around 40 people wounded.
The clash erupted when hartal supporters exploded crackers in front of the district AL office, prompting the ruling party men, who were preparing to bring out an anti-hartal procession, to give chase. Police lobbed 11 teargas shells to bring the situation under control.
In Rangpur, at least 30 people, mostly pro-hartal activists, were injured in a clash between BNP activists and law enforcers in front of the Rangpur Press Club.
In Rajshahi, at least 15 people, including five policemen, were injured as Jamaat-Shibir and BNP activists clashed with law enforcers at Binodhpur and Malopara.
Abul Hasnat, an assistant commissioner of Rajshahi Metropolitan Police, was among the injured policemen. Police arrested 62 people raiding three student dormitories in the area.
In Bhola, at least 15 passengers were injured when pro-hartal activists vandalised more than 14 vehicles, including seven auto-rickshaws at Ghuingarhat.
In Brahmanbaria, a clash between activists of AL and BNP left at least 10 people, including a woman, injured.
In Chittagong, around 200 pro-hartal activists blocked railway service for over an hour, setting fire to the tracks in the morning.
They also vandalised Foujdarhat Railway Station. Two trains - Paharika Express and Chattala Express - got stranded at Chittagong Railway Station following the blockade.
Similar incidents took place in Khulna, Magura, Pabna, Jessore, Chandpur, Bagerhat, Lalmonirhat, Narayanganj, Satkhira, Barisal and Madaripur.