Country falls in 3-day hartal from today

The country goes into the grip of a three-day hartal as Hefajat-e-Islam is set to enforce a daylong hartal on Monday while the BNP-led 18-party alliance on Tuesday and Wednesday.Hefajat-e-Islam Bangladesh from a mammoth rally on Saturday called the countrywide shutdown protesting the government obstructions to its long march programme and repression of its activists on their way to Dhaka.
Secretary general of Hefajat-e-Islam Junayed Babunagari announced the shutdown programme from the pots-long march rally at Motijheel Shapla Chattar.
The BNP-led 18-party alliance called another spell of countrywide 36-hour hartal from 6 am on Tuesday, to press home its various demands, including the release of opposition leaders and activists.
BNP joint secretary general Salahuddin Ahmed announced the shutdown programme from a press conference at BNP’s Nayapaltan central office on Sunday afternoon.
The shutdown is also meant for pushing the demand for restoration of the caretaker government system and protesting government repression and oppression of the opposition leaders and activists and forcing the “failed, incompetent and autocratic regime” to quit.
Earlier, the opposition alliance enforced hartals on March 12, 18, 19, 27 and 28 on the same grounds.
The fresh hartal call came soon after three Dhaka courts on Sunday sent 10 senior BNP leaders, including its acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, to jail in connection with seven cases filed over March 1 violence.
Meanwhile, Hefajat-e-Islam at a press briefing on Sunday urged the country’s people to peacefully observe its shutdown programme.
Addressing the briefing at its Lalbagh office, the Islamist group’s Dhaka city unit convener Moulana Nur Hossain Kasemi said there will be no vehicle torching and vandalism during the hartal. “We call upon people to observe the hartal spontaneously and peacefully across the country.”
Directing its activists not to indulge in activities that cause damage to public life and property, Kasemi said, “You’ll be there on the streets rolling out prayer mats with Tasbih in hands and Zikir in mouth.”
He also called upon the transport and launch owners to keep plying their vehicles and vessels suspended during the hartal hours showing passion for the Prophet and in the interest of protecting Iman (belief).
They also urged the authorities concerned to keep their business establishments, shops, and other organisations and institutions closed from 6m to 6pm on Monday.
The Islamist group, however, said rickshaws, hospitals, food shops, kitchen markets, media vehicles, ambulances, and medicine shops will remain out of the purview of the hartal.
The vehicles carrying relief materials for the recent tornado-hit Brahmanbaria will also remain out of the hartal’s ambit.
Meanwhile, panic has gripped the city dwellers as at least six vehicles were torched at different parts of the capital on the eve of the hartal. However, there was no report of any casualty in the arson attacks.
Police said the vehicles were torched in a bid to create panic among the city dwellers ahead of the shutdown to be enforced by the Islamist group.
By the time, huge police, Rab and BGB members started guarding the city streets in the evening to maintain law and order.
Sources at the Dhaka Metropolitan Police said additional 10,000 police will be on duty in the capital during the hartal hours to avert any untoward incident and ensure the security of people and their property.
Besides, plainclothes police with still and video cameras will be put on alert at a number of strategic points in the city during the hartal hours to identify the troublemakers.
Members of Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) will also be posted at a number of places along with the police in uniform. (Source: UNB)

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