Sudden spate of arson, vandalism
After three days of tepid hartals, Jamaat-e-Islami men suddenly turned violent during the countrywide shutdown yesterday, torching at least five vehicles and vandalising many more.
Two persons were shot, several crude bombs exploded and a dozen Jamaat activists arrested across the country during the daylong hartal enforced to protest the Supreme Court's upholding the death penalty of war criminal Muhammad Kamaruzzaman, also a leader of the Islamist party.
Yesterday's hartal is followed by another today. This shutdown was called to protest the death sentence against Jamaat leader Mir Quasem Ali for his 1971 war crimes.
Uncertainty looms large over the fate of more than two million candidates of Junior School Certificate, Junior Dakhil Certificate, and O- and A-level examinations, as back-to-back hartals by the party from October 30 to today have messed up the exam schedules.
Jamaat called the hartals in three phases, wasting away eight straight days -- five in shutdowns, two in weekend and one in public holiday.
In the capital, a bus was set afire on Kazi Nazrul Islam Avenue near Farmgate around 8:20pm. All the passengers managed to come out of the bus unhurt.
Another bus was torched in Azimpur area around the same time. A few crude bombs were exploded there as well.
In Khilgaon Rail-gate area, several cocktails were exploded around 8:30pm. A few gunshots were also reported from there but police denied it.
Soon after the incident, two persons with bullet wounds were admitted to Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH). According to hospital sources, Sanaul Haque, 22, was shot in the chest and Jafar, 45, in the leg. They both were reportedly brought from Khilgaon Rail-gate area.
Sanaul was later shifted to the National Institute of Chest Disease and Hospital as his condition deteriorated, according to DMCH sources.
Contacted around the midnight, the duty officer of Shahjahanpur Police Station said only some crude bombs were blasted but no gunshots were fired.
Like in previous hartals, educational institutions remained closed yesterday as well.
However, a large number of vehicles, both public and private, plied Dhaka streets during the hartal hours, often causing tailbacks at different intersections. Long queues of vehicles were seen at the city's refuelling stations throughout the day.
Though some short distance inter-district buses left the capital, transport services on long-distance routes remained suspended.
A bus was set ablaze in Gazipur around 6:00pm. Activists of Jamaat and its student wing Islami Chhatra Shibir also set fire to a private car and a covered van in the city around 2:30pm. Joydevpur police arrested three people in connection with the incidents.
Hartal supporters vandalised a number of vehicles on the Dhaka-Mymensingh highway at Gazipur's Bhogra.
In Rangpur, police arrested nine leaders and activists of Jamaat-Shibir, including the nayeb-e-ameer of Jamaat's district unit.
On a tip-off, the law enforcers raided Hajirhat area in the city around 2:00pm and arrested Shah Md Nur Hossain when he and other Jamaat-Shibir men gathered there to carry out “subversive” activities, police said.
Abdul Qader Jilani, officer-in-charge of Rangpur Kotwali Police Station, said Nur Hossain was an accused in different cases, some of which were linked to attacking and killing policemen in 2013, reports our correspondent.
Earlier, Jamaat called hartals on October 30, Sunday and Monday protesting the death penalty of its ameer Motiur Rahman Nizami by a war crimes tribunal.