Blasts, arson during shutdown

Activists detonated homemade bombs in parts of the capital city and set fire to at least one bus during an opposition-sponsored general strike on Monday, the first day of a two-day, nationwide shutdown.

At least three opposition activists were injured after a crude bomb exploded in the hand of one of the strikers near Kamalapur Railway Station, said Traffic Inspector Mahabub Hossain.

He said Shishu Mia, Halim Khan and Md Liton were detained after the explosion around 11:00 am and handed over to Shahjahanpur Police Station.

Another nine opposition activists were detained in two separate points in Dhaka on Monday.

Main opposition BNP and its partners are enforcing the general strike to demand that authorities release more than 150 leaders and activists who were arrested on Mar 11 in raid on the party headquarters in Dhaka’s Naya Paltan after an anti-government rally ended abruptly amid explosions and clashes.

The shutdown began amid tight security as thousands of police and RAB members were patrolling the streets of Dhaka on Monday. The opposition alliance ignored outcry by businesses for calling off the shutdown amid concern that repeated strikes are hugely hurting the economy.

A new round of chaos has become almost certain after the Opposition Leader on Saturday declined to offer any proposal for talks with the government to resolve current political crisis involving who would execute next elections.

BNP and its partners demand the government reinstall a polls-time caretaker government system, but Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina says she is no way going to revive the system that was scrapped by her administration in 2011. The annulment of the 15-year-old system came after the Supreme Court ruled that the provision is contradictory to the constitution.

The crisis became deeper as Jamaat-e-Islami, the main ally of the BNP, is out to thwart an ongoing war crimes trial involving its key leaders for their role during the country’s independence war against Pakistan in 1971. BNP has termed the trial a farce and accused the government of using this as a means to destroy the opposition.

Jamaat has reportedly attacked homes and property of minority Hindus as days of violence has left at least 70 people dead across the country.

Witnesses and correspondents said on Monday that the opposition activists detonated crude bombs in the city’s Motijheel, Mirpur, Shyamoli and Gabtoli areas on Monday morning. The bus was torched in Pallabi’s Kalsi area around 8am.Fire department’s Control Room Official Brojen Sarkar said firefighters rushed to the scene and doused the flames.

Witnesses said the activists brought out flash processions in Dhanmondi, Tejgaon, Karwan Bazar, Badda, Malibagh, Jatrabari and Jurain areas and attempted to vandalise vehicles.

Dhanmondi police OC Anowar Hossain said they detained eight members of Islami Chhatra Shibir, the student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami.

Jatrabari police Sub Inspector Emranul Islam said one person was arrested for allegedly trying to block the road by setting fire to tyres.

The chaos on Monday followed Sunday’s mayhem that continued until late night across the capital city as the pro-shutdown activists allegedly torched up to 24 vehicles.

On Monday morning, rickshaws and auto-rickshaws ruled the city streets. The number of public transport was thinner than usual.

No long distance bus left Gabtoli, Mohakhali and Sayedabaad bus terminals. However, train communication remained normal.

Police and Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) have taken position in front of the BNP’s Naya Paltan headquarters with water canons and armoured vehicles.

No activists of the main opposition were seen in front of its headquarters in the morning. BNP Acting Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir went to the party’s central office in the morning.

Later BNP Joint Secretary General Salauddin Ahmed came to the central office and alleged police had been obstructing their peaceful programme.

Ahmed claimed the shutdown was being observed spontaneously across the country.

On Mar 11, police had also detained Mirza Fakhrul, former DCC Mayor Sadeque Hossain Khoka and former Home Minister Altaf Hossain Chowdhury along with more than 150 other party men. A day later police released these leaders, but filed cases implicating more than 150 leaders and activists. A court later ordered the activists jailed.

Also on Mar 11, police claimed they recovered 10 crude bombs from inside the office, but BNP said it was a plot by the police to create a drama.

Later, a meeting of the BNP’s Standing Committee chaired by Khaleda announced that the alliance would impose two days of shutdowns for Monday and Tuesday unless authorities release all the detained activists.

Source: bdnews24


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