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Bangladesh's oppositon-sponsored 48-hour non-stop hartal sparks violence

English.news.cn   2013-03-18 16:07:34            

DHAKA, March 18 (Xinhua) -- Some 100 vehicles across Bangladesh were smashed or set on fire in the early hours of a non-stop 48 hour hartal Monday demanding release of opposition men detained in a recent police raid on their party headquarters.

In capital Dhaka and elsewhere in the South Asian country, where hartal has become a very common phenomenon in the recent months, scores of cocktails and handmade bombs were exploded, leaving dozens of people including opposition men and law enforcers injured, some critically.

Riot police shot rubber bullets and lobbed tear gas shells to disperse stone throwing pro-hartal activists who attempted to block roads and bring out procession along the major city streets, disrupting traffic.

Police detained dozens of opposition alliance men as they locked horns in chase and counter-chase with the law enforcers.

The hartal crippled the normal life and business transactions to large extent with many main markets and educational institutions closed.

Over one thousand trucks laden with cargo meant for ready-made garment export items have remained stranded on their ways to the premier Chittagong seaport, some 242 km southeast of capital Dhaka, local INDEPENDENT television reported.

On account of the hartal, private cars were rarely seen on Dhaka roads but a large number of man-peddled rickshaws appeared in the usually bustling streets along with the presence of public transport including city buses.

Many seem preferred to keep their vehicles in garages as at least 20 vehicles were also reportedly set on fire and 40 damaged fully or partially across Bangladesh in pre-hartal violence Sunday. In an incident in Dhaka, three physicians were injured as miscreants hurled a bomb at their car Sunday night.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's ruling Bangladesh Awami League ( AL) party leaders and activists were seen bringing out anti-hartal procession and stay on many Dhaka streets.

Former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) standing committee at an emergency meeting hours after the raid Monday night threatened the government with enforcing two more hartals on March 18 and 19, if it did not release the detained opposition leaders by Thursday.

A total of 154 main opposition men including dozens of leaders, who were detained during a raid on their headquarters last Monday night, were sent to jail Tuesday in connection with two assault cases against them.

Police raided (BNP) headquarters less than an hour after the party announced countrywide dawn-to-dusk hartal for Tuesday to protest at what it said government's corruption, misrule, oppression and "mass killings".

At least 76 people including several police men and dozens of Jamaat leaders and activists were killed and hundreds of others injured in the riots erupted since a tribunal awarded death sentence to the Jamaat's Vice President Delwar Hosssain Sayeede for war crimes in 1971 on Feb. 28.

Political tension in Bangladesh heightened in December after the 18-party opposition alliance, which have already dismissed the court as a government "show trial", geared up anti-government agitation programs, demanding restoration of the non-party caretaker government system to hold parliamentary elections slated for early 2014.

Since June 2011 when Bangladesh Parliament abolished the non- party caretaker government system after an apex court verdict declared the 15-year-old constitutional provision illegal, the BNP- led alliance has been waging mass protests demanding for the reinstatement of the provision.

The scrapped provision mandated an elected government to transfer power to an unelected non-partisan caretaker administration to oversee a new parliamentary election on the completion of its term.

Editor: Fu Peng
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