DHAKA: A countrywide dawn-to dusk hartal called by the opposition BNP, hot on the heels of party chief Khaleda’s eviction from her cantonment house, passed off Tuesday amid scattered incidents of violence, vehicle damage and arrests in the capital as well as across the country.
At least 100 pickets were picked up across the country and 23 injured when sporadic outbreaks of violence took place during the strike period.
Pro-hartal activists vandalised two vehicles in Katabon and Nilkhet areas in the morning. Besides, a bus of United Paribahan that plies on Mirpur-Sadarghat route was torched at noon in front of Victoria Park in the city’s Sutrapur area, reports reaching banlanews newsroom said.
DMP Deputy Commissioner (DB) Monirul Islam said to banglanews that police picked up 71 persons, including BNP leaders and activists, from different parts of the city during the shutdown.
Of them, 35 BNP men were taken in from in front of the party`s Paltan office, Mohakhali and Dhaka court premises in the capital at about 10 am.
Witnesses and party sources said the law-enforcing personnel charged baton on a procession coming out of the BNP central office and dispersed the pickets.
Lawmaker Nilufar Chowdhury Moni and former MPs Helen Zerin Khan and Bilkis Jahan Shirin were also picked up from in front of Paltan office in the morning.
Three cocktails went off near the BNP central office at 5:35 pm, reports banglanews correspondent.
During the hartal hours, all though rail communications remained normal, inter-district bus service remained almost suspended. City commuters had to trudge miles or hire three-wheelers at higher fares to reach their workplaces.
Sources said police cordoned the BNP office in the morning. They were also barring BNP leaders, activists from organizing gatherings at the hotspot of brawls in front of the office. “Anyone passing by the office was being nabbed,” claimed one of the BNP leaders there.
BNP secretary-general Khandakar Delwar Hossain and senior joint secretary-general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir and several other leaders were then inside the office.
Two Dhaka University students were also detained at 9:30 am from Bangladesh Shishu Academy area in the city on suspicion in connection with cocktail explosions.
Sources said police picked up three picketers from a procession led by BNP Chairperson`s Adviser Brig Gen (retd) ASM Hannan Shah near Wireless Gate in city’s Maghbazar area.
Against a grim backdrop of pre-strike nighttime outbreaks of violence, opposition BNP and its allies enforced the hartal as part of their declared oust-government movement against the 23-month-old Awami League government.
They have listed a number of government actions, including a “false propaganda” over the eviction of party chairperson Khaleda Zia from her leasehold cantonment home, as the reasons for calling hartal for a second time in a fortnight.
The issues also include power-gas crisis, price spiral of essentials, ‘anti-state’ agreement with foreign countries, deterioration in law-and-order situation, the withholding of BDR mutiny trial, and “propaganda made by using ISPR”.
Earlier on November 14, the party enforced a countrywide dawn-to-dusk general strike in protest against the eviction of party chairperson and ex-PM Khaleda Zia from her cantonment house.
Meanwhile, the scheduled hearing on the contempt-of-court petition filed by BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia against government authorities for her eviction from the cantonment house could not be held Tuesday for hartal and demonstrations by the pro-opposition lawyers on the Supreme Court premises.
As Khaleda’s appointed panel of counsel abstained from attending the hearing and the opposition-backed layers locked the gate of the apex court, an announcement came from the SC Appellate Division that the hearing would take place Wednesday.
BDST 1800 HRS, NOV 30, 2010
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