Blockade shuts Dhaka off, 1 killed in Chandpur

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The capital Dhaka remained almost shut from the rest of the country on Wednesday as the BNP-led opposition alliance began a blockade or roads, railway and waterways for an indefinite period to thwart the national elections scheduled for January 5 amid sporadic violence which leave one dead in Chandpur.
Blockaders clashed with law enforcers in Chandpur and burnt two vehicles in Gazpur and Bhola on the first day of the non-stop blockade.
The opposition also on the day enforced a general strike in Bogra, Meherpur and Feni in protest at the BNP chairperson, Khaleda Zia, being confined to his house and a Jamaat leader being killed earlier in Meherpur.
The opposition alliance announced the blockade after the government had foiled its ‘march for democracy’ towards Dhaka in December 29–30 to push for inclusive elections under a non-party government.
Faruk Patwary, 35, of Mandari in Chandpur, was killed in a clash with the Border Guard Bangladesh at Mahamaya Bazar on the Chandpur–Comilla Highway about 5:15pm.
The superintendent of police, Amir Zafar, said that several hundred opposition activists had attacked a BGB patrol van. They pelted the van with large brick chunks, damaging the van, and encircled the border guards, who then fired gunshots in self-defence. One of the several activists who became injured died on way to hospital, he said.
Blockaders burnt a covered van at Rajendrapur railway station in Gazipur and a bus at Telikhali in Bhola. Unnamed people also burnt seven shops of a BNP leader at Shakchar Kacharibari in Laksmipur. Opposition activists also carried out arson attack at Khilpara Bazar over the rumoured abduction of a local BNP leader.
No train from other cities reached Dhaka. But trains from Dinajpur and Sirajganj reached Dhaka after hours of delay, the Kamalapur railway station manager, Khairul Bashir, said.
Trains headed for Jamalpur, Jaipurhat and Kishoreganj left Dhaka in the morning and a couple of trains left for Narayanganj before midday, he added.
No buses or trucks on long routes left or reached Dhaka while the number of public transports in Dhaka
was thin.
The Bangladesh Bus and Truck Owners Association treasurer, Kamal Hossain, said no buses had run on
long routes.
The Mohakhali Bus Terminal Road Transport Owners’ Association president, Abul Kalam, said that some buses had left for Mymensingh.
The Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority said that 55 vessels had reached the Sadarghat terminal on the day and 34 vessels had left the terminal.
The joint forces arrested at least 142 people — 37 in Sylhet, 26 in Jessore, 17 in Chandpur, 10 each in Brahmanbaria, Natore, Gazipur and Jhenaidah, 9 in Noakhali, 6 each in Satkhira and Comilla and 1 in Moulvibazar.
Reports from Noakhali said that opposition activists had burnt two houses, a poultry farm, a motorcycle, five rickshaws and a rickshaw-van and damaged five shops and a house at Khilpara Bazar and Chatkhil midnight past Tuesday on rumours that Juba League people had abducted local BNP leader Jalal Ahmed.
The police said that miscreants had beaten up Khilpara union unit BNP secretary Jalal Ahmed at Chatkhil Tuesday evening and he was sent for treatment. As people could not trace him, they went on the rampage.
Reports from Lakshmipur said that at least seven shops of the sadar unit
BNP vice-president Sayedur Rahman had been burnt early in the day. One sustained severe burn injuries.
Sayedur’s father Lutfar Rahman Chowdhury said unnamed people had burnt shops on the Lakshmipur–Majuchowdhury Road.
Reports from Sylhet said that the BNP and its front organisations had brought out a procession in support of the blockade.
In Dhaka, Shibir activists brought out a procession at Demra and tried to block road by starting fire.
Rickshaws and autorikshaws ruled roads in capital with a small number of buses plying. Law enforcers took up positions at strategic points to head off trouble. A large number of law enforcers were deployed at the central BNP office at Naya Paltan.
The opposition alliance earlier enforced blockade for 501 hours in 22 days in five spells beginning on November 26 when the
polls schedule was announced. More than 100 people were killed in blockade violence.

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