The Jamaat-e-Islami enforced dawn-to-dusk shutdown is underway amid reports of sporadic clashes with law enforcers across the country.
Jamaat called the hartal on Monday to mount pressure on the government to release its top brass currently standing trial on war crime charges. Its key ally, the BNP, has also extended support to the lockdown call.
The law enforcers have made tight security arrangements to avoid any untoward incident in the capital Dhaka. A large number of police and RAB personnel are patrolling the streets since early morning. Policemen in plain clothes have also been deployed.
Meanwhile, despite all precautions, Jammat managed to bring out flash processions in the city’s Karwan Bazar, Tejgaon, Jatrabari and Shewrapara areas and reportedly vandalised several vehicles. They were also seen trying to create panic among the masses by setting ablaze tyres.
At the start of the shutdown, only a small number of buses were seen plying on the usually busy streets. The auto-rickshaws and rickshaws were also fewer in numbers. Commuters were seen stranded and waiting for transports at various intersections.
Our correspondents have reported sporadic incidents of Jamaat activists clashing with police and smashing vehicles in Rajshahi University, Sylhet’s Tuker Bazar, Narayanganj’s Siddhirganj and Tongi.
Traffic in Karwan Bazar and Farmgate areas came to an abrupt halt around 6:45am when several youths torched tyres on the street. They ran into various streets pelting stones at police when they chased him.
Officer in Charge of Tejgaon Police Station Omar Faruk told bdnews24.com that the hartal supporters smashed at least four vehicles and tried to set a bus ablaze since morning.
Hartal supporters also brought out a flash procession in support of the shutdown in Jatrabari’s Kutubkhali area, reportedly smashed at least five vehicles and burnt to tyres.
Sub-Inspector of Jatrabari Police Station Emdadul Islam told bdnews24.com that people from the procession set fire to a blanket and put it on the street.
Several vehicles were also reportedly smashed in the Kazipara and Shewrapara areas in the morning. Fire Service’s control room official Brozen Kumar Sarkar said a bus was torched around 6:30am in Savar.
Although Jammat has cited various reasons for the daylong strike, their prime goal is to mount pressure on the government to release their stalwarts standing war crimes trial.
Top eight Jamaat leaders, including its former chief Ghulam Azam, incumbent chief Matiur Rahman Nizami, Secretary General Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujaheed, Executive Council member Delwar Hossain Sayedee, and Assistant Secretaries General Abdul Quader Molla and Mohammad Kamaruzzaman, are currently facing trial at the two war crimes tribunals for allegedly committing crimes against humanity during the nation’s War of Independence in 1971.
Trial in some of the cases has reached the final stage.
Apart from them, two BNP leaders, Salauddin Quader Chowhdhury and Abdul Alim are also standing trial for similar charges.
Other members of the BNP-led 18-Party Alliance have also extended support to the Jamaat’s shutdown.
Jamaat has been demonstrating from the beginning of November demanding release of its top leaders. They have targeted police in Dhaka and elsewhere.
The motorcade of Law Minister Shafique Ahmed also came under attack in Karwan Bazar recently. Activists of Jamaat’s student front, Islami Chhatra Shibir, allegedly set on fire a policeman in Joypurhat.
Over 150 police officials have been reportedly injured in these sporadic but related attacks across Bangladesh. Nearly 3,000 Jamaat-Shibir activists have been detained over these attacks.
The Jamaat activists took out a procession in capital Dhaka’s Jatrabari area on Monday, smashed several vehicles and set two buses on fire.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police’s (South Zone) Deputy Commissioner Anowar Hossain told bdnews24.com extra policemen have been deployed near the Jamaat headquarters in Mogbazar and its metropolitan office in Paltan keeping in mind the recent attacks on the law enforcers.
“Reserve forces have been prepared so that action can be promptly taken in case anything happens,” he said and added that any attempt to hinder the lives of the city’s people would be thwarted.