Hasina warns Zia of "dire consequences" as B'desh unrest drags

Dhaka, Jan 12: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today called her arch-rival and opposition leader Khaleda Zia as the "queen" of terrorism and warned of "dire consequence" as her party enforced a nation-wide blockade for the six consecutive day resulting in 13 deaths over the past week. "Please stop the violence in the name of blockade.

Otherwise, you will have to face a dire consequence for annoying the countrymen. I will take all necessary steps to protect the people's lives and property," Hasina told a huge public rally in the capital as enforcement agencies kept a tight security vigil. Hasina came down heavily on Zia calling her the "queen" of terrorism and corruption and saying "the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) leader is no longer a political leader, she is the leader of terrorists.

Sheikh Hasina

People do not listen to her". Hasina, 67, and Zia, 69, are often referred to as the "battling begums" of Bangladesh.

"(But) the government is determined to ensure the safety of countrymen and nobody will be allowed to hinder the security of people," the premier told the rally at the Suhrawardy Udyan in central part here. Her comments came as tension mounted afresh in the capital as the ruling Awami League rally coincided with the first anniversary of its installation after the divisive January 5, 2014 polls, which was boycotted by the BNP.

Awami League, however, organised it to mark the Home Coming Day of Bangladesh's founder and Hasina's father Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman from captivity in Pakistan in 1972. Police and elite anti-crime Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) patrolled the streets while administrative chiefs of different districts sought deployment of paramilitary forces amid mounting tensions as the BNP-enforced "non-stop" nationwide blockade continued since January 6.

Two more deaths in arson attacks overnight put the toll to 13 since January 5 with the latest victim being a 25-year youth who jumped off a bus, torched by suspected opposition activists, only to be run over by a speeding truck in northwestern Gaibandha. A truck driver also succumbed to his burn wounds suffered on January 7.

According to figures tallied by mass circulation Prothom Alo newspaper, 305 people including 90 policemen were injured, 105 vehicles were torched and 122 others were smashed up since the outbreak of the current unrest on January 4. But fears of sabotages kept people on their toes and in a major such incident two bomb-like devices were found inside law books kept at two courtrooms of High Court late yesterday. "The substance appeared like improvised explosive devices, we are examining them," a police officer told newsmen.


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