Hartal continues amid violence: One dead

Dhaka – The 36-hour hartal, enforced by the BNP-led 18-party alliance, is proceeding with stray incidents of violence that left a BCL man dead in Tangail on Tuesday.According to reports reaching the UNB news desk, Imran Sarker, 20, joint secretary of Gopalpur upazila unit of BCL, the student wing of the ruling Awami League, was killed in an attack by hartal supporters at the upazila headquarters of Tangail in the morning.
Police said a group of BCL and Awami League activists brought out an anti-hartal procession in the area around 8 am. At that time, activists of BNP and its student front Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal (JCD) jointly attacked the procession, leaving three ruling party workers, including Imran, injured.
Imran succumbed to his injuries while being moved to Tangail General Hospital.
Later, in a crackdown on the opposition activists, police arrested two JCD workers in connection with the attack.
In capital Dhaka, the first half of the shutdown on the second day was marked by vandalising of vehicles, arrests, cocktail explosions and arson attacks.
Police arrested five activists of Islami Chhatra Shibir from Indira Road, Green Road and Motijheel Eden Complex areas.
Police recovered a cocktail from near the US Embassy at Baridhara and another from Proshika Crossing in Mirpur.
Chhatra Shibir, the student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami, brought out a procession at Indira Road around 7.30 am and vandalised two-three buses. Police fired rubber bullets to disperse the gathering and detained a Shibir man.
At about 8.45 am, pro-hartal supporters set afire a pickup-van at Sewrapara of Mirpur.
The hartal activists vandalised three-four vehicles at Gabotoli at about 6.20 am.
At least 30 cocktails were exploded at Mirpur Stadium, Rayerbagh of Jatrabari, Kalabagan, Motijheel, Shahjahannpur, Shyamoli and Farmgate areas.
The hartal supporters also brought out processions elsewhere in the capital.
Educational institutions remained closed, but government and non-government offices are open, though the attendance is thin.
Rickshaws and auto-rickshaws are dominating the city streets as the presence of motorised vehicles was less. Train services are, however, normal.
Huge law enforcers were seen guarding the city streets to maintain the law and order.
Meanwhile, the engine and six coaches of an Express train derailed near Kulaura Railway Station of Moulvibazar district early Tuesday, leaving about 12 passengers injured.
Rail link between Sylhet and Dhaka, and Sylhet and Chittagong remained snapped following the incident caused by the removal of base plates of rail tracks.
“It’s not immediately clear who removed the plates. The base plates might have been removed from the rail tracks in the area some time on Monday night. Hartal supporters might be behind the incident,” said Sylhet Railway Station Manager Abul Kalam Azad.
However, rail link on the routes could not be resumed till 11am on Tuesday.
Incidents of violence were also reported from different parts of Rajshahi city.
At Mondol Crossing, a clash broke out with hartal supporters when police tried to disperse them from picketing at 6 am.
Pickets hurled seven crude bombs at police who in retaliation fired rubber bullets, leaving 15 people, including Assistant Commissioner Abul Hasnat of Motihar zone, injured.
Police later arrested 40 hartal supporters from the spot.
In Malupara area, BNP activists brought a procession in support of the hartal at 7 am and police intercepted, triggering a fierce clash.
Police fired rubber bullets to disperse them as a crude bomb was set off in the clash.
Advocate Shafiqul Hoque, general secretary of Rajshahi city unit BNP, claimed that 20 of their activists were injured in the attack.
BGB, police and Rab personnel were patrolling in the city to fend off further trouble.
In Natore, the pickets halted vehicular movement on Rajshahi-Dhaka bypass near Bonbellgharia Mohila College area by burning tyres and putting bricks. The pickets left the scene when police chased them. Later, police removed barricade from there.
UNB Khulna correspondent reports: The hatral is progressing peacefully as there was no report of any untoward incident till filing of the report at noon.
The opposition alliance called the general strike after police raided the BNP central office on March 11 and arrested over 150 leaders and activists of the party, including its acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, and vice chairmen Sadeque Hossain Khoka and Altaf Hossain Chowdhury, opposition chief whip Zainul Abedin Farroque and BNP joint secretaries general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi and Amanullah Aman.
The alliance had given the government an ultimatum to release the leaders and activists by Thursday (March 14).
Though three of the BNP leaders — Mirza Fakhrul, Khoka and Altaf Hossain — were released on March 12, the remaining leaders and workers sent to jail.
(Source: United News of Bangladesh)

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