Highway blockade, torching buses, clashes and processions mark Hefajat hartal
The nationwide dawn-to-dusk hartal called by Hefajat-e-Islam is underway with incidents of clashes, processions, BGB firing, roads blockade and torching of vehicles.
Hefajat activists brought out processions in the capital's Lalbagh, Paltan, Baitul Mukarram, Mohammadpur, Basila, Saat Masjid and Jatrabari areas in the morning.
A clash happened between hartal supporters and Awami League supporters in the city's Paltan area.
Bringing out a procession from the north gate of Baitul Mukarram National Mosque, Hefajat supporters went towards GPO intersection. At that time, an AL activists' procession came from the opposite direction and a chase and counter-chase ensued.
Later, Hefajat supporters returned to the mosque and held a rally there.
Around 300 Hefajat men blocked the road at Mohammadpur bus stand by setting fire to tyres for an hour since 6:30am.
Picketers also blocked a road in Basila area of Mohammadpur in the morning, causing traffic gridlock in the surrounding areas for an hour.
At least three people were injured during clash between madrasa students and ruling party activists in Mohammadpur area around 11:00am.
The clash ensued when the students of a local madrasa tried to block a road in the area and the ruling party men chased and beat them up with rods.
The students also pelted brick chips on the ruling party activists, our correspondent reported from the spot.
Vehicular movement was low on the streets in the capital, our correspondents from different points of the city reported.
A large number of law enforcers were seen patroling major streets in Dhaka.
In Narayanganj, a man was injured when Border Guard Bangladesh opened fire after being attacked by picketers in Sanarpar bus stand area in Narayanganj around 11:00am, our correspondent reports from the spot.
Injured Mohammad Shakil (26), an employee of a furniture shop, was admitted to Dhaka Medical College Hospital. He sustained bullet injury in his right leg.
Shahadat Hossain, a picketer who took him to the hospital, claimed BGB men asked them to disperse when they blocked the road. A clash between Hefajat picketers and BGB ensued.
Shakil's father Abul Kasem said that his son was in the shop when he was hit by stray bullet.
After the incident, agitated locals threw stones and brick chips, damaging at least 10 vehicles on Dhaka-Chattogram highway where Hefajat activists put barricades, halting traffic movement.
Our Narayanganj correspondent reports, Hefajat activists blocked Dhaka-Chattogram and Dhaka-Sylhet highways by setting fire to tyres at different points, disrupting traffic movement for the last four hours.
Police and witnesses said stick-wielding Hefajat activists used timber and sand bags and torched tyres at Madanganj, Shimrail, Mouchak and Sanarpar area to block the highways at 6:00am, reports our Narayanganj correspondent.
Windows and windshields of some trucks on the highways were also broken.
Officer-in-charge of Kanchpur Highway Police Station Md Moniruzzaman told The Daily Star that vehicular movement on Dhaka-Chattogram highway remained halted as hartal supporters blocked Madanganj.
Police tried to convince them but they refused to free the road, the OC said.
However, Sylhet-bound vehicles are using an alternative route -- Demra Staff Quarter Road -- to reach their destinations, the police officer said.
Hefajat also set fire to tyres at Jatrabari and Signboard around 7:30am, halting traffic movement on Dhaka-Chattogram highway.
Hefajat activists were seen talking to bus drivers and passengers at some points in the city, asking them to support the hartal protesting the deaths of their fellow activists during anti-Modi demonstrations in Brahmanbaria and Chattogram.
In Brahmanbaria, Hefajat men blocked roads by setting tyres on fire and felling electric poles at different points in the district town since morning.
They also brought out sporadic processions supporting the hartal and protesting deaths of five people, including a minor, yesterday in clashes with law enforcers in the town.
They also held a rally in front of the press club.
Hefajat activists torched tyres at 40 spots to block Dhaka-Sylhet, Cumilla-Sylhet highways.
In Rajshahi, a BRTC bus parked inside Naodapara Truck Terminal was set on fire around 6:30am, which also damaged another bus parked there, police said.
On information, fire fighting units rushed to the spot and brought the fire under control.
A case will be filed with the Shah Makhdum Police Station in this regard, police said.
BUS AND TRAIN MOVEMNT
Few long-distance buses are leaving Dhaka but number of passengers was few.
"No untoward incident was reported so far," Romesh Chandra Ghosh, chairman of Bangladesh Bus Truck Owners Association told The Daily Star at 10:15am.
All trains left Dhaka maintaining schedule so far, Masud Sarwar, Kamalapur Station Manager said at 10:05am.