Sporadic clashes and incidents marked the second day of the countrywide nonstop three-day blockade enforced by the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, its allies, and Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami on Wednesday.
The death toll from the violence since police foiled BNP’s grand rally on October 28 rose to 12 following the death of a tea seller who fell sick following police shelling of tear gas during Tuesday’s blockade in Kishoreganj.
The three-day blockade of roads, rail, and waterways, enforced by the opposition parties, began on Tuesday to mount pressure on the Awami League government to quit and hold the next election under a non-party, neutral administration.
On the second day of the blockade, the leaders and activists of the ruling Awami League and its associated bodies were seen gathered and holding a procession on different roads in the capital, wielding sticks and canes.
Like the first day of the blockade, a poor number of transports, including public buses, were seen playing on the streets of Dhaka with a low number of passengers.
The scenario was, however, different at long-distance bus terminals, including Saydebad, Gabtoli, and Moakhali, where no buses left, citing a lack of passengers.
Attendance in most of the offices, including banking and non-banking financial institutions, was low, while educational institutions that were open also had a low presence.
Teams of police, Border Guard Bangladesh, and the Rapid Action Battalion patrolled the roads and highways of the capital to avert an untoward situation cantering the opposition parties’ blockade programme. At least 16 incidents of arson took place across the country between Tuesday and Wednesday, according to the fire service.
Among the arson attacks, four occurred in Dhaka city (Postogola, Khilgaon, Baridhara), six in Dhaka division (Savar, Gazipur), and three each in Chattogram (Karnaphuli, Rangunia) and Rajshahi (Bogura, Sirajganj) divisions.
Nine buses, two covered vans, two trucks, one pick-up van, two commercial product showrooms, and one police box were burned, the fire department’s media cell said.
In Kishoreganj, a tea seller, Md Ashiq Mia, 55, who was undergoing treatment after being injured in the tear gas fired by the police during a clash on the first day of the blockade, died on Tuesday night.
Speaking at a virtual press briefing, BNP senior joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi alleged on Wednesday that the government had become desperate to eliminate the BNP and other parties by indiscriminately arresting opposition leaders and activists across the country.
He said that arresting BNP leaders and activists and placing them on remand was now one of the best weapons the government had to cling to power.
BNP and its associate bodies also observed strikes on Wednesday in Sylhet and Kishoreganj, protesting the killing of party activists on the first day of the blockade.
BNP and its associate bodies brought processions to Dhaka and other parts of the country to mark the blockade programme.