Violence escalates in major cities of Bangladesh

Many of Dhaka city streets turn into a battle field as police resorted to baton-charge and fired tear shells to disperse opposition demonstrators during three-day general strike last week.

Dhaka–With  the political unrest taking  the course of street violence, a wide range of anxiety is spreading quickly among  the  people  at all levels in Bangladesh. 

The three-day-long hartal  enforced  by  the opposition BNP  has  demonstrated  the level  of  violence  that left  at least  three persons  killed, hundreds  injured, thousands arrested and  torching  of   a  number  of vehicles in  the  capital city and  across the country. 

In a pre-hartal violence, one person was killed and eight buses were set ablaze in the capital last Saturday.

Bus driver Badar Ali, 40 was burnt alive when his bus was torched at Khilgaon. Seven other buses were set afire between 1:30pm and 10pm at Gulistan intersection, in front of Azimpur’s Eden Women’s College, Abdullahpur near Uttara, Mirpur, Farmgate and in Banani area.

Pickets also torched two buses and vandalized some 14 vehicles in the city Tuesday on the third day of hartal enforced by BNP-led 18-party alliance protesting disappearance of opposition leader  Ilias Ali, a former member  of  the parliament.

Scattered blasts and incidents of arson and vandalism marked the three-day-long shutdown in the capital on Tuesday as the opposition  continued their protest demanding ‘return’ of their missing BNP leader M Ilias Ali.

In  the capital  city, police  and  RAB  kept  the  BNP central office  under  virtual siege while  baton-charging  any procession seen  anywhere. BNP Vice-president  Selima rahman, a former  State Minister,  was also whisked into police  jeep  along  with  other  women members  of the party as they came  down to street in  the city’s  Gulshan area  on Monday.  Selima Rahman was released on bail the following day but seven others arrested with her were denied bail in a Dhaka court.

The  level  of  violence  was  highest  in  Sylhet, the tea gropiwng  zone  and  the   home  constituency  of  Ilias  Ali.
Fierce clashes broke out between police and BNP supporters, who blockaded a 30-km stretch of the Dhaka-Sylhet highway in  an  instant  protest against  the ‘disappearance’ BNP organising secretary M Ilias Ali.  At least 22 were arrested and 10 including two policemen were injured during the clashes and a police shotgun went missing but was recovered afterwards.

Two bouts of clashes broke out between BNP activists and police at Rashidpur Bazar in South Surma in Sylhet. Police brought the situation under control by firing tear gas shells.

On  the second  day  of  hartal,  people  in  Biswanath upazila  became violent  as  police  tried  to obstruct  the opposition procession.  On Monday, Selim Ahmed, 30, and Monwar Hossain, 28, were shot dead and at least 50 people, including cops, injured in the clash at Bishanath. Another victim, Zakir Hossain, 30, was son of Bhutto Mia succumbed to his injuries on Wednesday morning.

Amnesty International

The Amnesty International has demanded thorough investigation into the death of two people in clashes between police and BNP activists during protests over disappearance of party’s leader M Ilias Ali in his home constituency Biswanath.

Meanwhile, around 1,275 BNP activists have been accused in six cases filed by the police over the clashes in Sylhet during Sunday’s countrywide shutdown.

They were accused of vandalism, anarchy and assaulting law enforcers during the shutdown. Two cases have been filed over the clashes at Jindabazar and Bandarbazar accusing 600 members of the newly formed BNP-led 18-Party Alliance
Another case was filed under the speedy trial act accusing 475 BNP activists, out of whom 25 have been named, for assaulting police during the clashes at Tukerbazar on the outskirt of the divisional city of Sylhet.

Police on Tuesday filed two cases accusing 8,000 opposition activists following Monday’s violent clashes that left two people dead at Biswanath upazila in Sylhet.

Chittagong

Some 404 leaders and activists of opposition BNP were sued in the port city of Chittagong on charges of attacking police, obstructing them from pursuing their duties and vandalizing vehicles during Monday’s hartal.

On Monday, some BNP activists vandalized a Tempo in the port city’s Nasimon Bhavan area at about 12 noon during a nationwide dawn to dusk hartal for second straight day. Police chased them that triggered a clash between them. Police charged baton on pro-hartal pickets, who in retaliation, threw brickbats at police. Later, police fired tear shell to disperse the picketers,

Rajshahi

At least four leaders and activists of opposition BNP, including Metropolitan joint secretary general Mizanur Rahman Minu were injured in a bloody clash with police in the city’s Barnali More area during the second day of the countrywide dawn to dusk hartal on Monday morning.

Opposition men locked into a clash with police as police obstructed them to bring out a protest procession in Barnali More area at about 7am, leaving at least four opposition men and one cop injured.

Dinajpur

In Chirirbandar Upazila of Dinajpur, pro-haral supporters were attacked by ruling party activists during the third day of hartal on Tuesday. Attack on the procession triggered sporadic clashes and chase-counter chase between two groups, leaving 60 people injured. 14 motor cycles used by the ruling party people were also torched.
Police sued around 400 leaders and activists of BNP and Jamaat on charges of attacking Awami League processions and torching 14 motorcycles.

In western  town  of  Bogra Around 37 people were injured in sporadic clashes between BNP, Awami League and police during hartal hours on Monday.

In southern port city of Khulna, the over enthusiastic police took pleasure to torture the arrested opposition workers in their custody that generated public anger against the government.
In Khulna two opposition activists were hung from the ceiling and blindfolded while being beaten, after they were arrested on the street.

Awami League wants it

Meanwhile, the central leaders of ruling Awami League encouraged its leaders and activists “to face vandalism, killings, anarchy and terrorism of opposition BNP”.

The leaders came up with the plea while addressing rally organized by City Awami League in protest against BNP’s anarchy during hartal Tuesday.

They added that the Awami League would not accept the anarchy of the opposition party, which is trying to hinder war criminals trial and protect corrupts.

The rally was addressed, among others, by Agriculture Minister Begum Matia Chowdhury, Textile and Jute Minister Abdul Latif Siddique, Awami League joint general secretary Mahbubul Alam Hanif and State Minister for Law Advocate Qamrul Islam.

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