A 40-year-old man was killed and at least 20 people, including policemen, were injured in clashes between strikers and police in the port city of Chittagong.
At least 52 people were injured in sporadic clashes between BNP men and law enforcers in Brahmanbaria, where activists blasted at least 100 crude bombs. Incidents of vandalism and crude bomb explosions were also reported from Kishoreganj, Satkhira, Rajshahi, Bogra, Jhenidah, Comilla and capital Dhaka.
Opposition alliance had announced a 84-hour nationwide strike
Situation took a turn for the worse yesterday after three members of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party's highest policymaking committee - Moudud Ahmed, M K Anwar and Rafiqul Islam Mia - were arrested. Later, police detained BNP chief Khaleda Zia's adviser, business tycoon Abdul Awal Mintoo, and her special assistant Shimul Biswas, prompting BNP to increase the duration of the strike from 72 to 84 hours. State Law Minister Qamrul Islam today warned even BNP chief Zia might face arrest if the party continues "vandalism and terrorist activities".
"If the BNP continues vandalism and terrorist activities, then BNP's top leaders including Khaleda Zia will have to face the same fate like the detained leaders," he said. Environment and Forest Minister Hasan Mahmud, however, offered an olive branch and said arrested BNP leaders might be released if the opposition agrees for talks and promises to move away from the path of "anarchy", the newspaper 'Prothom Alo' reported.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina expressed concern over the violence and appealed for peace. "Believe me I feel so much pain when I see people are being burnt in such a way. I don't need the prime ministership. I want peace for people. I cannot tolerate their sufferings," she said.
The BNP-led 18-party opposition alliance had announced a 84-hour nationwide strike starting today, after enforcing two back to back 60-hour shutdowns since October 27 on the same issue. This will be the third prolonged strike in two weeks.
The BNP-led alliance called the first 60-hour shutdown from October 27 and second one from November 4 to press for the restoration of the neutral caretaker government system to oversee the polls scheduled to be held by January 25, 2014.
A total of 27 people have died in violence linked to political turmoil since October 25. PTI