Pickets block the Dhaka-Chittagong highway dumping bricks and burning tyres in Mouchak area of Siddhirganj in Narayanganj during hartal hours yesterday. [below- right] A picket tries to torch a bus in the capital's Jatrabari area. [left] A pro-hartal activist chases a police in Shatmile area on Dhaka-Barisal highway. Jamaat-e-Islami enforced the daylong strike across the country demanding release of its central leaders from jail. Photo: Focus Bangla
Jamaat-e-Islami and Islami Chhatra Shibir activists yesterday vandalised and set fire to several vehicles in Dhaka and other districts during their countrywide daylong hartal using the hit and run tactic.
Stray incidents of clash, chases and counter-chases and detentions also marked the hartal, in which the agitators resorted to brisk attacks on law enforcers and quick retreats. They burnt tyres on the streets to obstruct traffic movement.
They even attacked a US embassy vehicle. The embassy protested the attack and Jamaat, admitting responsibility, apologised and offered compensation.
The Jamaat-Shibir men vandalised and torched at least 20 vehicles in Dhaka, Narayanganj and Gazipur yesterday.
At least 22 people, mostly passengers of vehicles, were injured as Jamaat-men vandalised 64 vehicles elsewhere in the country yesterday. Five vehicles were also torched.
The pro-hartal activists torched a food-delivery van of police and attacked a police constable in Brahmanbaria.
Around 18 activists of Jamaat and pro-Jamaat student body Islami Chhatra Shibir were injured in the capital after being beaten up by ruling party supporters and locals when they were trying to vandalise and set fire to vehicles at Mirpur-11 and Mughdapara.
Obstructed from holding rallies on Monday, Jamaat-e-Islami had called the hartal. Terming the hartal successful, Jamaat yesterday declared countrywide agitation programme for today and a prayer programme on Friday.
Meanwhile, Shibir called a down-to-dusk hartal in Dinajpur today protesting the death of its union-level leader Monday night following a clash between police and activists of Jamaat-Shibir.
At Khilgaon in the capital, five to six Shibir men suddenly attacked police and tried to snatch rifles from two policemen. Failing, they hurled brick chips and ran away.
Movement of traffic in the capital was small until yesterday noon. Most shops, business houses and educational institutions were closed. Most of the primary and secondary schools in the city and elsewhere in the country suspended their annual exams.
Office-goers had difficulty finding transport to work.
Although no bus on long-distance routes left the capital's three bus terminals, the shutdown did not affect movement of trains and launches, and domestic and international flights.
But passengers who reached Dhaka in the early hours of yesterday faced difficulties going to their respective destinations.
A huge contingent of law enforcers was seen patrolling key areas and intersections in the capital since early morning.
There were reports of violence at Pallabi, Khilkhet, Karwan Bazar, Khilgaon, Sheorapara, near Ruposhi Bangla Hotel, Mirpur, Jatrabari and Savar areas in Dhaka.
In Mirpur-11, at least 12 alleged Jamaat-Shibir men and one transport worker were injured in a clash between them and pro-ruling party men and locals.
Witnesses said the clash erupted when more than 50 Jamaat-Shibir activists reached Mirpur-11 in procession around 3:00pm. They had vandalised over a dozen buses and tried to set two buses on fire on their way from Kalshi Road in Mirpur.
At least six suspected Jamaat-Shibir activists were injured during a clash with Awami League men and locals when they tried to vandalise vehicles at Mughdapara in the city around 1:00pm.
Police detained 238 pro-hartal activists across the country including 69 in Dhaka in connection with vandalism and setting fire to vehicles, said a statement from police headquarters.