Vehicles torched amid surge in violence


Staff Correspondent

In a fresh surge in violence, pickets in the capital torched and damaging buses and cars on the second day of the 72-hour hartal on Monday causing panic among the people. Traffic was thinner than usual on the city streets on the 56th day of the transport blockade enforced by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led alliance, as suspected blockaders in small groups suddenly appeared at different intersections and damaged or torched cars and CNG-run auto-rickshaws. But traffic grew as the day rolled on and despite panic, the hartal hardly affected life in Dhaka city as shops and markets were open and offices and businesses functioned as usual. The authorities of different city schools who were planning to resume classes amid a slackening blockade and hartals, threats from unknown quarters and seizure of crude bombs from different schools forced them to abandon their plan. The blockaders appeared to have taken a new strategy to spur the anti-government movement at the beginning of March. Suspected blockaders in small groups suddenly appeared at different intersections in the capital and carried out mindless vandalism targeting cars and CNG-run auto-rickshaws. At least seven cars and one bus were set on fire and at least 10 other vehicles were damaged in the capital on Monday morning leaving at least three people injured. Miscreants also hurled crude bombs at places, including at a police outpost in the capital. At least four vehicles were burnt in arson attacks in the outlying districts. No casualties were, however, reported. Along with the nonstop transport blockade, the BNP-led alliance announced the fresh spell 72-hour hartal from 6:00am Sunday  to press for immediate holding of a participatory and acceptable election under a non-party administration to ‘restore democracy and establish people’s voting rights’.

A good number of buses left Mohakhali, Saidabad and Gabtoli inter-district bus terminals in Dhaka for outlying districts. Most of the trains are leaving Kamlapur railway station on time while ferry services remained unaffected. Miscreants threw firebombs at two cars at Bijaynagar. But the attacks caused no casualties. A parked car was sent on fire and two or three vehicles were damaged in Lakkhibazar area in Old Dhaka in the morning. A car was set on fire and several others were damaged at Mohakhali. Pickets hurled several crude bombs at Nadda traffic police outpost at around 9:30am and four or five crude bombs at Gulshan 2 intersection at around 3:00pm. At least three people were injured when blockaders threw crude bombs at a staff bus of Janata Bank at Jatrabari. A group of youths suddenly appeared on the road in front of Jamuna Future Park at Bashundhara and shouted slogans in favour of the blockade and hartal. They damaged several vehicles, including cars, there. Another group of youths appeared on the road at Hatirjheel near Gulshan’s Niketon and set fire to at least three cars and damaged several others. But no casualties were reported. Cocktails were charged and several vehicles were damaged near some city schools. Police recovered a crude bomb and half litre of octane from Tejgaon link road. Law enforcers rounded up about 150 activists of BNP and its ally Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami across the country on the day. Family members of two students of Jagannath University alleged that the students – Zahirul Islam and Mohammad Noman – were tortured at Sutrapur police station before being shot in the legs. New Age correspondent in Feni reported that suspected blockaders had set ablaze a bus after forcing the passengers to get down on Feni-Noakhali highway at Muktarbari in Daganbhuiya. About 4,000 pigeon chicks the bus was carrying were burnt to ashes in the attack. Bogra correspondent reported that miscreants had set fire to a truck and a pick-up van carrying fish at Erulia on the outskirts of the district town. The incidents caused no casualties. Miscreants also charged several crude bombs at Bogura registry office.

Dinajpur correspondent said miscreants had hurled firebombs at a truck at Nababganj in the district. The truck was burnt but there were no casualties. New Age staff correspondent in Sylhet reported that Islami Chhatra Shibir activists had brought out a sudden procession in the city and vandalised five CNG-run auto-rickshaws. Pro-hartal activists hurled a firebomb at a truck parked at Dakkhin Surma in the city on Sunday night that damaged the vehicle. They also torched a bus after forcing out its passengers and vandalised a truck at Shewla in Bianibazar upazila on Sunday night. BAU correspondent reported that miscreants had set a parked bus on fire on the campus of Bangladesh Agricultural University in Mymensingh early Monday. Lakshmipur correspondent said a BNP activist and a Jamaat man were hit by bullets in a ‘gunfight’ with the police at Kamalnagar in the district early Monday. Narayanganj correspondent reported that unidentified people had set fire to the land office at Bandar union in the district early Monday. However, no documents of the office were burnt.