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Hearth tragedy: three days of blockade from October 31 to October 31 is announced by the BNP

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    The resumption of political hartal in Bangladesh brought sporadic violence and unrest across the country, with incidents including arson attacks on buses and clashes with police, resulting in three deaths on Sunday.

    The disruptions also impacted economic activities with port operations experiencing a slowdown and transactions in banks decreasing significantly during the hartal, enforced by the opposition BNP and Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami.

    Amid all this, BNP has announced nationwide blockades for three days starting 31 October.

    Garment factories, crucial to the nation's economy, continued their operations during yesterday's hartal. Workers near Ashulia, Gazipur, and Savar reported to work with ease. 

    However, officers responsible for overseeing operations and supply chains faced commuting challenges, especially those residing 30-40 kilometres away in Dhaka.

    AKM Shaheed Reza, chairman of Reza Group, operating three garment factories in Ashulia, confirmed minimal disruptions for workers, while executives encountered residence-related challenges.

    BGMEA vice president Rakibul Islam Choudhury assured that garment factories in Chattogram remained unaffected by the brief strike and were operating as usual.

    Three deaths

    In Dhaka at 3pm, Nayem, a 22-year-old bus helper, was burnt to death while sleeping in a bus of Asim Paribahan in the Demra area when arsonists set the bus on fire. 

    The perpetrators escaped unidentified. 

    Another person died after falling from the roof after being chased by the locals after setting the bus on fire in the capital's Mohammadpur area.

    The deceased, identified as Abdur Rashid (38), Adabar Thana BNP's local government affairs unit secretary under ward-30, Mohammadpur zone assistant commissioner Azizul Haque told the media.

    However, the BNP claims Rashid was killed by the activists of the ruling Awami League while he was returning from a procession aimed at enforcing hartal. 

    In Lalmonirhat, a Swechchhaasebak League leader was killed in a clash between the AL and BNP at Mahendranagar Union in Lalmonirhat's Sadar upazila.

    The deceased, Jahangir Alam, breathed his last at Rangpur Medical College Hospital around 1:30pm, according to Lalmonirhat District Swechchaasebak League President Saiful Islam.

    Confirming the death, Lalmonirhat Sadar police station Inspector (Investigation) Swapan Kumar Sarkar said, "We could not confirm his political identity. But we got the news that he was active in politics."

    Buses set ablaze in Dhaka

    Four buses were set ablaze in the capital's Baitul Mukarram Bangshal area. 

    A bus of Shikor Paribahan was torched at the southern gate of Baitul Mukarram, the venue for AL's yesterday peace rally, around 9am. 

    In Bangshal's Tatibazar Mor, miscreants set fire to another bus of Bihanga Paribahan with passengers inside at 10:28am. The passengers had disembarked before the fire spread.

    Around 6am, a bus of Swadhin Paribahan was torched in Mohammadpur Bus Stand.

    Also, a bus of Porosthan Paribahan was set on fire in Mohammadpur Town Hall Market area. 

    No casualties were reported in the incidents.

    According to the Fire Service, a total of 45 arson incidents were reported nationwide on Saturday and Sunday, with 27 of them taking place in the capital city. 

    On Sunday, there were 13 additional fire incidents reported across the country, four of which occurred in Dhaka.

    Clashes outside Dhaka

    In Bogura, at least 15 people, including a child, were injured as activists of the BNP clashed with law enforcers and the Awami League. Law enforcement arrested seven BNP men over the clash.

    In Natore, Saiful Islam Aftab, district BNP member, was shot three times in an attack. He is currently under treatment at Rajshahi Medical College Hospital. 

    In Cumilla, at least 15 people from AL and BNP were injured in a clash between activists of the two parties. 

    In Kishoreganj, 10 police members were injured when police tried to disperse BNP activists while they were vandalising the car of Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO). 

    There were also reports of clashes and arson in Thakurgaon, Sylhet, Rajshahi, Sirajganj, Manikganj, Narayanganj, Faridpur, and Khulna.   

    Subdued economic activities

    Chattogram port briefly halted container deliveries on Sunday morning, but services resumed after 11am. 

    Container deliveries, which typically range from 2,500 to 3,500 TEUs daily, totalled 2,491 TEUs yesterday. 

    C&F agents handle around 2,000 bills of entry for import goods and 5,000 bills of export for export goods at Chittagong Custom House. Despite the strike, customs operations remained unaffected.

    While the loading of goods into truck-covered vans at the port continued, drivers were cautious about road incidents, leading to a reduced movement of goods vehicles on the road. 

    There were no reported roadblocks.

    Slow bank transaction 

    The hartal resulted in a significant drop in bank transactions. Banks experienced minimal customer foot traffic, with few customers visiting for non-urgent withdrawals. 

    However, insurance companies, financial institutions, and the stock market in the Motijheel, Dilkusha, Fakirapool, and Dainik Bangla areas conducted their operations as usual. 

    Meanwhile, the two stock markets of the country, the Dhaka Stock Exchange (DSE) and Chittagong Stock Exchange (CSE), were not affected by the hartal. Although the presence of investors is less, transactions went on normally.

    3-day blockade 

    BNP Senior Joint Secretary General Ruhul Kabir Rizvi yesterday announced nationwide blockades for three days starting 31 October. 

    Addressing a media briefing, Rizvi said the blockades will be organised to protest against the detention of the party's General Secretary Mirza Fakhrul Alamgir, the attacks on the 28 October citywide rallies and the killing of numerous party activists.

    "Many of our leaders and activists are in prisons across the country. Many are victims of enforced disappearance or killed."

    He added, "Our leader Khaleda Zia is hospitalised in critical condition. They [government] are not allowing her better treatment abroad. She was denied medical attention." 

    The party has also called for the immediate release of the BNP chairperson and secretary general.

    Earlier yesterday, Mirza Fakhrul was detained from his house in Gulshan by the Detective Branch (DB) of police.

    His detention comes following deadly clashes between party activists with the ruling Awami League and police.


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