Strike passes off amid sporadic clashesStaff Correspondent
Sporadic violence, chase between pickets and police, bomb blasts and attacks on vehicles marked the second day of the opposition’s nationwide back-to-back shutdowns on Monday in protest at the government’s ‘failure’ to find out the missing BNP leader Ilias Ali.
Police picked up former deputy minister for health Sirajul Haque from in front of BNP’s central office at Naya Paltan at around 7:40am.
Like past days of strike, police hardly allowed picketing of the streets but escorted anti-hartal processions of ruling Awami League and its fronts.
Activists of Juba Mahila League chased a group of lawmakers of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party when they were returning after holding demonstrations in the Jatiya Sangsad complex.
The lawmakers also faced obstruction from the police in bringing out a procession on the parliament compound. The lawmakers then held a rally in front of the parliament house.
Pro-hartal pickets and activists of Chhatra League chased each other after BCL men and police jointly attacked an opposition procession at Adabar at around 7:00am, leaving one injured.
Police picked up one person from the spot.
Security in and around the Bangladesh Secretariat was tightened after Sunday’s bomb attacks on the country’s administrative hub. Traffic on the roads around the secretariat was restricted by the police during the strike.
Like the past strikes, the BNP’s central office remained cordoned off since the morning.
Police allowed no party leaders or activists to gather there.
A few senior leaders stayed in the BNP central office during the strike. Senior leaders, including the party’s acting secretary general, Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, were absent as police filed cases against them for the secretariat bomb attacks on Sunday.
Police also raided the houses of Fakhrul and party standing committee members Khandkar Mosharraf Hossain and Mirza Abbas but did not find them.
The party’s standing committee member Moudud Ahmed at a briefing in the afternoon condemned the filing of cases against the senior leaders. ‘The government has taken the old tactics of filing cases to weaken the movement but the ploy would not work,’ he said demanding immediate withdrawal of the cases. Moudud also said the party would go to court to seek bail for the leaders.
Pickets in Motijheel area torched a pickup truck of Dhaka Power Distribution Company. Police detained its driver in connection with the arson.
Presence of opposition activists on the streets was insignificant compared to past few strikes and more vehicles plied the city roads on the day compared to last week’s strikes.
Large contingents of law enforcers guarded the main thoroughfares and key points of the capital to prevent violence.
Most public transports and cars stayed off roads fearing arson attacks.
Rickshaws and auto-rickshaws dominated the roads like other days of strike.
Road links between the capital and outlying districts was disrupted during the strike as buses and trucks stayed off the roads. No intercity buses left the three terminals in Dhaka but train service was unaffected and river transports plied their routes. All flights on international routes operated.
All educational institutions, business establishments, most shops and markets remained closed in the capital.
The government offices functioned as usual and a number of banks, including some foreign banks, operated during the strike hours. Transactions at Dhaka Stock Exchange took place amid the strike.
Loading and unloading at Chittagong and Mongla ports was normal but transportation of goods remained suspended during the strike.
Reports from Rajshahi said that at least 15 leaders and activists of BNP were injured in clashes with police in the city’s Rajarhata area and police picked up at least 20 opposition activists from different areas of the city.
The BNP brought out a procession led by fomer city mayor Mizanur Rahman Minu from Loknath School at about 6:30am. Police charged into the procession when it came in front of the City College. Police used tear gas to disperse the marchers.
In Khulna, police fired rubber bullets on a BNP procession and arrested 16 people from different parts of the city. At about 8:00 am, some BNP activists brought out a procession from Hazi Mohsin Road and the police chased them when they reached South Central road. The police fired rubber bullets and tear gas shells after two bombs were hurled at them. No injuries were reported. Pickets torched a vehicle in Dakbangla area early in the morning.
Police in Narsingdi dispersed a pro-hartal procession by charging batons.
In Barisal, police arrested eight opposition activists. Police along with AL activists took control of city streets and kept picket at bay. The opposition activists blasted some crude bombs at different parts of the city early in the morning.
The correspondent in Savar said that police had seized 11 live bombs from Kaliakur village. The bombs were found abandoned in a plastic bag and on a tip from villagers, the police recovered them.
Police in Rangpur arrested four Juba Dal activists for picketing at different parts of the town.
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