After Monday’s nationwide daylong hartal observed by Hefajat-e-Islam, the BNP-led 18-party is going to enforce another spell of countrywide 36-hour shutdown at 6am Tuesday to realise its various demands, including the release of its arrested opposition leaders and activists.
BNP joint secretary general Salahuddin Ahmed announced the shutdown programme from a press conference at BNP’s Nayapaltan central office on Sunday afternoon.
The hartal will end at 6pm on Wednesday. But Bogra district chapter of BNP has extended the 36-hour countrywide shutdown by 12 hours in the district.
The fresh hartal call came soon after three Dhaka courts on Sunday sent 10 senior BNP leaders, including its acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, to jail in connection with seven cases filed over March 1 violence.
The shutdown is also meant for pushing the demand for restoration of the caretaker government system and protesting government repression and oppression of the opposition leaders and activists and forcing the “failed, incompetent and autocratic regime” to quit.
Earlier, the opposition alliance enforced hartals on March 12, 18, 19, 27 and 28 on the same grounds.
Meanwhile, two vehicles were torched at Gulshan and Mirpur and several crude bombs were exploded at different parts of the city on the eve of the hartal, creating panic among the city dwellers. However, there was no report of any casualty in the incidents.
By the time, huge police, Rab and BGB members started guarding the city streets in the evening to maintain law and order.
BNP’s Nayapaltan central office has been kept locked since Monday morning as no senior leader came to the office. However, the law enforcers were seen patrolling the Nayapaltan area with armored vehicles.
Sources at the Dhaka Metropolitan Police said additional 10,000 police will be on duty in the capital during the hartal hours to avert any untoward incident and ensure the security of people and their property.
Besides, plainclothes police with still and video cameras will be put on alert at a number of strategic points in the city during the hartal hours to identify the troublemakers.
Members of Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) will also be posted at a number of places along with the police in uniform.
On March 11, police stormed into the BNP central office and arrested its 154 leaders.
Three of them — Mirza Fakhrul, Sadek Hossain Khoka and Altaf Hossain Chowdhury — were released the following day while 148 others were charged under Speedy Trial Act and Explosive Substance Act.
On March 20, two courts in Dhaka placed 154 leaders of the opposition alliance on an eight-day police remand in the two cases filed with the city’s Paltna Police Station.
Later, police submitted a charge sheet against 148 of them dropping the names of six BNP men in a case filed with Paltan Police Station under the Speedy Trial Act.
A Dhaka court on March 23 accepted charges against the 148 leaders and activists of the BNP-led 18-party opposition alliance.
The 18-party has been demanding unconditional release of the arrested leaders and activists and enforced hartals for five days to this end.