Country-wide shutdown called by opposition

Sep 21, 2011

Opposition BNP and it’s alliances is  enforcing  an 11-hour countrywide hartal (Thursday) protesting the price hike of fuel, share market scam and repression on opposition leaders and activists.

Party acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir announced the hartal programme in an emergency media briefing at its Naya Paltan central office in the capital on Tuesday.

Later, other partners of the 4-party alliance extended their support to the shutdown.

BNP had first called a dawn-to-dusk hartal, but later reduced it by an hour to 5 pm.

BNP joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi told UNB that the hartal has been shortened by an hour due to unavoidable circumstances. Now the hartal will be observed from 6 am to 5 pm instead of 6 am to 6 pm as announced earlier, he said.

At a protest rally in front of BNP central office in Naya Paltan, senior party leaders bitterly criticised the government yesterday for increasing fuel prices and asked the government to step down and hold fresh elections under a non-party caretaker government.

“The government has made public life miserable. So, there is no alternative but to go for movement. The government has to bear all responsibilities if it creates any obstruction during the hartal,” said Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir addressing the rally.

Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain, Mirza Abbas, Nazrul Islam Khan also addressed the rally with DCC Mayor Sadeque Hossain Khoka in the chair.

After the rally they brought out a procession which just went to Kakrail intersection and back.

Weirdly, opposition activists then started vandalising the very microbus and truck used as a stage for the rally. They even burnt a tyre on the street but police were quick to get everything under control again.

Late in the night, a bus was torched in Mirpur-13 in the capital. Locals, however, doused the flames before the fire brigade could get to the scene.

POLICE READY FOR HARTAL

Home Minister Shahara Khatun yesterday said the government will use mobile courts to check anarchy on the streets before and during the hartal today. She also said the government will go tough on unruly pickets.

She made the comments before reporters at her Secretariat office.

Rab and DMP officials said around 11,000 additional policemen and 3,000 Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) personnel with 12 mobile courts have been deployed in the capital to deal with pickets. BNP and its allies decided to picket at about 35 spots in the capital.

Security men with a number of water cannons and armed personnel carriers (APC) will remain vigilant across the capital.

“Law enforcers will put in their highest efforts to prevent any kind of anarchy on the streets as well to keep law and order under control,” Additional Deputy Commissioner (ADC) of Police Masudur Rahman of DMP told The Daily Star.

Meanwhile, police arrested 61 people at different places in the capital between Tuesday night and early hours of yesterday. Twenty-five were arrested in Chittagong, 41 in Khulna, 14 in Chapainawabganj, four in Pabna, sources said, adding that they were shown arrested in cases filed in connection with Monday’s violence.

Concerned at the hartal call, the Federation of Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) and Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) urged the opposition parties to withdraw the hartal in the interest of the national economy.

The opposition BNP last enforced a nonstop 48-hour hartal across the country on July 6-7 in protest against the annulment of the caretaker government provision through the 15th amendment to the constitution.

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