Opposition led shutdown paralyzed Bangladesh
By Syeda Munawara Qazi
Dhaka, Bangladesh: Opposition led shutdown and strike in Bangladesh started on Sunday morning for next 36 hours giving a deserted look to all major cities of the country.
BNP-led 20-party alliance yesterday called a 36-hour nationwide Hartal (Financial shut down) from 6am Sunday which will continue until 6pm Monday.
Bangladesh is no more a normal country since last one month as political wrestling between ruling party and BNP-led 20 party alliance is halting economic growth of this South Asian country.
BNP-led opposition is trying to thrown ruling party from power while government is using police force to control the situation instead of finding some political resolve of on-going political standoff. The unrest in the country is compelling European and North American companies working in garment industry to find some other place for outfit and garment manufacturing. Capital flight is on and medium to large stitching units are losing their contracts almost on daily basis.
“We are doing work only on contracts we have a year ago and now foreign buyers are not giving us contracts and not trusting us that we can provide goods at time because of bad situation in the country. Foreigners say you never know when your city is closed down and workers cannot come to factory and this is routine in Bangladesh now”, said owner of a garment factory when Dispatch News Desk contacted him to comment.
Sunday Hartal was called by BNP Joint Secretary General Ruhul Kabir Rizvi on Saturday who announced the shutdown programme in a press conference. The call for hartal for today (Sunday) was due to an “attempt of government to arrest BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia” and file cases against BNP activists.
The most dangerous feature of on-going protests is burning buses and public transports on roads while passengers are still under the vehicle. More than 18 persons including women and children sustained over 50% burn injuries when vehicles they were travelling were burnt down without giving them chance to come out of the vehicle.
Countrywide transport blockade was announced in the first week of January and transporters were warned by the opposition to stop transport or face burning of their vehicles. The situation has virtually paralyzed the transport system across the country as well as financial and economic activities. Now transporters have halted inter-district and inter-city buses to avoid burning of their vehicles.
Transporters claim that Jamaat-i-Islami workers are trained and skillful force of BNP to burn transports with petrol bombs. “You can find five or 10 beard men appear on road, stop the vehicle (wagon/bus), throw petrol on types and throw bottle of petrol covered with cotton cloth inside vehicle and then disappear”, said a transporter while explaining the situation outside main city of Dhaka.
According to a local news agency, police arrested over 250 BNP-Jamaat leaders and activists from different districts on different charges. Of them, 70 were arrested from Jessore, 12 from Chandpur, 24 from Noakhali, 25 from Laxmipur, 28 from Dinajpur, 20 from Comilla, 12 from Chittagong, four from Demra in Dhaka, four from Sunamganj, two from Chuadanga, and one from Satkhira. News agency said that a group of miscreants set fire to a private car at Shyamoli and blasted at least five crude bombs, while another group of miscreants exploded 12 crude bombs in Malibagh on Saturday.
A Chandpur-bound private car was burnt to ashes by pickets on the Chandpur–Comilla highway at Ghoserhat area. In Dinajpur, a truck driver and his helper sustained burn injuries in a petrol bomb attack by miscreants at Bhushibandar area under Chirirbandar upazila early yesterday. The diver, Hamidul Haque (38), and the helper, Abdur Rashid (25), were admitted to Rangpur Medical College Hospital.