Saturday, January 29, 2005

BANGLADESH: Post General Strike Update [ 3 News Clippings]

01. 60-hour shutdown st arts amid stray clashes
02. 60-hour Hartal - Over 100 hurt in clashes, cop beatings on day one
03. Sporadic clashes mark hartal

01. 60-hour shutdown st arts amid stray clashes
Rickshaw puller bombed to death at Mirpur

Sporadic clashes marked the first day of the Awami League’s 60-hour, countrywide general strike on Saturday in which more than 100, including some central party leaders, were injured.

An unidentified rickshaw puller was killed when assailants hurled a bomb on Dar-us-Salam Road at Mirpur in the capital at about 9:30pm.

Businesses were closed across the country. Motor transports stayed off the road and almost all the private institutes did not function on the first day of the strike, called in protest at Thursday’s grenade attack on an Awami League in Habiganj.

The former finance minister, Shah AMS Kibria, also a party lawmaker, and four others were killed in the attack.

The police in Dhaka beat the pickets and picked up 50 people from the road as they tried to hold rallies. The police shot fired on the opposition party activists in Gaibandha, some 197 kilometres north-west off Dhaka, on the day.

The 14-party opposition alliance led by the Awami

League called for the general strike from 6:00am on Saturday to Monday evening.

The hartal pickets clashed with the police, damaged vehicles in Dhaka. The opposition activists obstructed railway communications at different places outside Dhaka during the hartal hours.

The police picked up six young men in connection with the bomb attack that killed the about 30-year old rickshaw-puller on the spot.

The police picked up the Awami League presidium member, Begum Motia Chowdhury, and 14 other women when they were picketing at the Kakrail crossing at about 10:30am. Motia along with some of her party activists got off the police vehicle.

The police charged at a Bangladesh Chhatra League procession with truncheons near the Rokeya Hall of Dhaka University at about 11:00am, in which several marchers were injured. The police picked up seven from the place.

The women activists clashed with the police on Satmasjid Road at about 8:30am while the police charged at them with truncheons.

Another procession of the Awami League youth front was stopped twice at Noor Hossain Square and Muktangan at about 10:30am. Several pickets were picked up.

The Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal activists tried to assemble at Muktangan at the time. The police dispersed them and picked up several activists.

The pickets damaged windowpanes of two minibuses at Russel Square when a procession led by Awami League lawmakers was passing at about 11:15am. The pickets also damaged several other minibuses at Shapla Square at Motijheel and the Paltan crossing.

The police assaulted some lawmakers by obstructing their procession near the Kalabagan bus stand. Similar clashes also took place at places such as Chawkbazar, Motijheel and Pallabi.

The Awami League claimed that more than 50 of their activists were injured in clashes.

Educational institutions, shops, businesses, private offices, banks and financial institutions remained closed at different city places. Attendance in government offices was very thin.

Most vehicles, except for rickshaws, some buses and three-wheelers, were off the road. The pickets obstructed inter-city trains on the Chittagong–Sylhet, Dhaka–Bahadurabad and Khulna–Saidpur routes.

Jalalabad Express remained stranded at Noapara on the Dhaka-Chittagong route at 8:25am. Uttarbanga Express was halted at Islampur Bazar in Jamalpur at about 8:30am. Simanta Express on the Khulna-Saidpur route was detained by the pickets in Saidpur at 8:40am. Another local train was stranded at Bonarpara in Gaibandha.

The Bandarban district Awami League at a meeting decided to relax the strike in the district in Sunday and Monday in view of the difficulties faced by the tourists.

The New Age correspondent in Chittagong reported a peaceful observance of the strike in the city and on its outskirts.

The police rounded up 157 leaders and activists of the Awami League in the city Friday night.

The pickets damaged a pick-up van at Baharddarhat and vandalised some auto-rickshaws and rickshaws at New Market in the morning.

The hartal supporters stopped a Bahaddarhat-bound bus from Agrabad at Chaumuhuni and set it on fire, after dropping all the passengers, at about 7:15pm.

The correspondent in Moulvibazar reported no major incident in the district. The police arrested 10 pickets during hartal hours in Habiganj.

The Dhaka-bound Jayantika Express from Sylhet was stopped at Bhanugachh railway station, the Dhaka-bound Paharika at Srimangal and the Sylhet-bound Jalalabad at Noyapara station.

The Jessore correspondent said at least four people were injured in clashes between the BNP and the Awami League activists in the town. A truck and eight motorcycles were damaged.

The police picked up four. The Awami League and its allies held two separate rallies at Daratana square and the Manihar Cinema.

The Mymensingh correspondent said the pickets damaged at least eight tempos on CK Ghosh Road and stopped a local train for half an hour at Bidyaganj railway station.

The police picked up at least 20. They also seized four PA systems from an Awami League rally at Railway Krishnachura square, the party leaders claimed.

The Narsingdi correspondent said pickets vandalised several government offices.

The correspondent in Chapainawabganj reported similar damage of some motor vehicles and arrest of two pickets at Haripur.

The strike was peaceful in Gopalganj, Jamalpur, Bagerhat, Rajshahi and Jhenaidah, said district correspondents of New Age.

The Khulna correspondent reported the pickets damaged two auto-rickshaws and a rickshaw. They also burnt a rickshaw at the PTI crossing during a clash with the police.

The Bangladesh Rural Development Board office at Tala in Satkhira was vandalised by the pickets. The police arrested two Awami League activists.

The correspondent in Barisal reported an almost peaceful observance of the strike on the first day. There were some stray incidents in which 10 were injured.

The police picked up two Chhatra League activists and a former union council chairman, Humayun Kabir, also an Awami League leader, at Kalijira, but the pickets snatched them from the police in the morning.

The pro-hartal activists clashed with the anti-hartal groups of the Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal and the Juba Dal in the morning.

02. 60-hour Hartal - Over 100 hurt in clashes, cop beatings on day one
Staff Correspondent

A sitting and two former AL lawmakers along with more than a hundred others were wounded as the opposition activists fought pitched battles with the police at different places across the country yesterday, the first day of the 60-hour hartal.

The shutdown that started at 6:00am yesterday virtually crippled life and economic activities disrupting road and rail communication and domestic flights.

The major opposition Awami League (AL) and its left-leaning allies enforced the hartal in protest at the killings of former finance minister Shah AMS Kibria and four others in a grenade attack on an AL rally in Habiganj on Thursday.

The police picked up around 100 people from different parts of the country, 44 of them from the capital where the law-enforcers were in an aggressive mood. They clubbed the opposition leaders and activists at several places.

In Dhaka, former state minister and Acting General Secretary of the AL Obaidul Kader and the party's former lawmaker Haji Selim were injured in the police action. The police beat them up during the demonstrations.

In Hatia, Awami League lawmaker Mohammad Ali, Upazila Nirbahi Officer Imam Uddin Kabir and 50 others were injured in a series of clashes between the AL and BNP activists in the island in Noakhali district.

In Gaibandha, the police fired blank shots and lobbed teargas shells injuring 15 people when the protestors barricaded two trains at Bonapara Railway Station.

Four express trains-- Jalalabad, Parabat, Jayontika and Paharika -- got stranded at different stations until 5:00pm as a portion of rail tracks in Rashidpur-Shatgaon section was uprooted, our Brahmanbaria correspondent says quoting railway sources.

Long-route vehicles did not operate across the country.

Flights from Barisal Airport were not operated.

Of a few city service buses in operation in Dhaka and Chittagong, one was set ablaze by unruly people in Agrabad in the port city. They forced the passengers to get down before setting the bus on fire in the evening.

The protestors set fire to another bus at Mirpur section-10 and damaged more than a dozen buses in Paltan and Motijheel areas in the capital. A CNG autorickshaw of Channel-i also came under attack at Arambagh.

All the educational institutions and most of the business and other establishments remained closed. No trading took place in the Dhaka and Chittagong stock exchanges while transactions in banks were very thin.


The police chased and charged batons on the opposition leaders and activists in Dhaka University, Paltan, Motijheel, Muktangan and Baitul Mokarram areas. The hartal supporters clashed with the police at Chawkbazar.

The police cordoned off the AL headquarters on Bangabandhu Avenue putting barbed wire fences in the morning and did not allow the opposition activists to bring out processions or stage demonstrations in the area.

At least six AL leaders and activists including former MP Obaidul Kader were injured when the police started dragging them from a procession as it reached near Chamber Bhaban in Motijheel at about 11:30am.

As Kader and some other leaders tried to snatch an activist from the policemen, the law-enforcers swooped on them. The police started beating and kicking the AL leaders and activists including the former minister.

Witnesses said Kader fell to the ground when the police assaulted him. Later, he was taken to a private clinic. The police picked up at least 12 AL supporters from the spot.

At that time AL lawmaker Asaduzzaman Noor shouted at the police: "If you do not let us protest the killing of our leader, please shoot us."

Paltan and surrounding areas turned into a battlefield at about 10:30am when the law-enforcers went on action to disperse the opposition activists. They charged batons on a Jubo Mahila League procession at about 11:45am.

At this stage the agitating female protestors pelted stones at the running vehicles and on the police. Several policemen swooped on Sramik League activist Shima Chowdhury who fell to the ground and sustained head injury.

In protest against the police action, the hartal supporters led by Asaduzzaman Noor staged a sit-in at Paltan blocking the road.

The police clubbed a procession of Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL), student wing of the AL, in front of Rokeya Hall of Dhaka University (DU) leaving at least 10 BCL leaders and activists injured at about 11:30am.

Two of the wounded BCL activists collapsed on the road receiving serious head injuries. Five of them were admitted to Dhaka Medical College and Hospital (DMCH).

Six BCL leaders including central Vice-president Ashit Baran Biswas were arrested during the demonstration.

Five other BCL activists were injured when the police charged batons on another procession near the Teachers-Students Centre on the DU campus at about 7:45pm.

The police beat former AL lawmaker Haji Selim mercilessly near the Dhaka Central Jail gate when he was leading a procession at about 11:30am. As the law-enforcers clubbed Selim and others, the protestors pelted brickbats at them.

Haji Selim was rushed to the DMCH and later shifted to a private clinic from where he was released after treatment.

Earlier, the police also charged batons on a procession led by Haji Selim near Chawkbazar soon after he came out of his Lalbagh house defying police obstruction. From the early morning, a good number of police cordoned off his house.


Some 50 people including AL lawmaker Mohammad Ali and Upazila Nirbahi Officer of Hatia Imam Uddin Kabir were wounded when the AL activists clashed with the ruling BNP men in the island throughout the day.

The lawmaker and the UNO sustained head injuries while 30 others were injured critically during the series of clashes. The warring groups used sticks to beat their opponents. They pelted stones at each other.

Police and witnesses said the clashes ensued when the BNP activists brought out processions in the town amid demonstrations by the opposition activists in protest against the killing of Shah AMS Kibria.

The BNP activists ransacked houses of seven AL activists and local Proshika office while AL supporters attacked the house of a local chairman.

The authorities sent one platoon of additional police from Noakhali to Hatia to bring the situation under control.

In Chittagong, some unidentified youths set ablaze a city service passenger bus near the Fire Brigade headquarters at Agrabad at around 7.00pm. Firefighters rushed to the spot immediately and doused the blaze. None was hurt in the incident.

The police rounded up 157 people Friday night and arrested four hartal supporters in the city during yesterday's hartal, our staff correspondent reports from the port city.

The Sylhet-bound Jalalabad Express, which left Chittagong Railway Station the previous night, was stranded for a few hours at Nawapara station yesterday morning.

Railway sources in Chittagong said Sylhet-bound train Upaban Express from Dhaka faced similar obstruction at Srimangal station in Moulvibazar.

In Khulna city, the opposition activists damaged three trucks, two autorickshaws, a bus of Parjatan Corporation and eleven rickshaws, our correspondent reports.

Eight people including four AL leaders, two passersby and two BNP workers were injured in a clash between the AL and BNP activists at Patgram in the early hours yesterday, reports our Lalmonirhat correspondent.

Our Barisal correspondent reports: At least seven opposition activists including Swechchhasebak League leader Azizur Rahman Shahin were arrested and eight others injured in sporadic clashes in Barisal yesterday.

Pro-hartal advocates boycotted the courts while Dhaka-Barisal flights were suspended.

In Satkhira, at least six people were injured in a clash between pickets and anti-hartal activists in the town, our Satkhira correspondent says.

Our Mymensingh correspondent reports: The police arrested 20 opposition activists during the hartal.

Our correspondents from Rajshahi, Comilla, Bhola, Gopalganj and Bandarban report that all the vehicles except rickshaws remained off the roads during the hartal.

03. Sporadic clashes mark hartal
By Staff Reporter

The first day of 3-day hartal was marked by sporadic violence in which at least 150 people were injured and an unspecified number picked up or arrested in Dhaka city and elsewhere in the country till evening yesterday.

Fourteen opposition parties led by Awami League enforced the hartal from 6:00am yesterday in protest against the killing of former finance minister SAMS Kibria, MP, and four others on Thursday’s grenade attack in the north- eastern town of Habiganj.

Pickets and police clashed at Gulistan Motijheel, Paltan, Dhaka University campus, Russel Square of the city. Awami League leaders Obaidul Quader and Haji Selim were among the injured.

Railway sources said that several inter-city express trains were obstructed at several places across the country yesterday. Railway tracks were also uprooted at Rashidpur-Satgaon on Akhaura-Sylhet route at about 1:20pm and distrupted train movement for several hours. The train service was restored after 5:00pm.

Pro-hartal activists obstructed inter-city express trains in Chittagong-Sylhet, Dhaka-Bahadurabad and Khulna-Syedpur routes.

Jalalabad Express Train was stranded at Noapara on Dhaka-Chittagong route at 8:25am. Uttarbanga Express was halted at Islampur Bazar in Jamalpur at about 8:30am, while Simanta Express on Khulna-Syedpur route was detained by mobs at the outer signal of Syedpur Railway Station at 8:40am. Another local train was held up at Bonarpara.

In Dhaka city, shops and business establishments on the main roads remained closed. BRTC double deckers, some private buses, CNG three-wheelers and some taxicabs were found plying different city routes. Movement of rickshaw remained normal.

Attendance in government offices and private establishments was thin. Education institutions remained closed. Buses did not ply on inter-district routes.

The pro-hartal activists took out group-processions in Kakrail, Paltan, Motijheel, Gulistan, Dhanmondi and Mirpur areas demanding resignation of the BNP-Jamaat alliance government for failing to arrest the perpetrators of the series of grenade attacks on the opposition leaders.

In Kakrail, Awami League Presidium member Motiya Chowdhury courted arrest and boarded police van as police picked up a dozen of women activists at about 10:30am, while they were staging pickets from Shantinagar to Kakrail. They were released after an hour.

Police dispersed two processions of Communist Party of Bangladesh and Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal at Paltan Crossing in the morning and arrested five activists from the area.

A procession led by Asaduzzaman Noor, MP was proceeding towards Motijheel from Paltan Crossing when a minibus was damaged in front of Baitul Mukkaram Mosque at about 11:00am. Police charged batons to disperse the marchers. They also picked up two persons from there. Later, the procession moved toward the DCCI Bhaban when Awami League leader Obaidul Kader and other party leaders and workers were beaten up by police, witnesses said. Kader was rushed to a city clinic for treatment.

Police charged batons on a procession of Bangladesh Chhatra League near Rokeya Hall at about 11:00am, leaving several protestors, including BCL leaders Ashit Baran Biswas, Suchana Howlader and Munni wounded. Seven BCL activists were also picked up from the scene.

Police charged at a procession of women workers of Awami league in Jhigatala area at about 9:00 am as the angry workers attacked a police van.

Riot police also chased and charged batons on brick-throwing pickets at Jhigatala at about 8:45am, witnesses said.

A procession led by former MP Haji Selim came under police action at noon near at Chankhar Pool leaving Haji Selim and several others injured.

In Narayanganj, hartal was observed peacefully. The town AL organised a rally at its office and demanded exemplary punishment to the culprits.

In Chittagong, pickets set ablaze a bus at Chowmuhini and an autorickshaw at Kadamtali in the morning after some motor vehicles appeared on the street.

In Rangpur, the hartal passed off peacefully. Government offices functioned normally while presence in educational institutions was very thin and the financial institutions were open with limited transactions.

In Gaibandha, at least 16 pro-hartal pickets, including a Chhatra League leader were injured during a clash that erupted when the hartal-supporters halted Lalmoni Express and Padmarag Express in the morning. The opposition activists also barricaded a local train on the Bonarpara-Shantahar route for two and half an hour during the hartal.

Our Sylhet Correspondent Reports: Hartal was observed peacefully in the city. All kind of traffic movement in Sylhet remained suspended.

Sylhet City Corporation Mayor Badar Uddin Ahmed Kamran led a motor-cycle procession chanting slogans in favour of the hartal. Police arrested six Chhatra League activists and seized a motor-cycle from the procession.

AL leaders in the rally strongly condemned the heinous attack in which Kibria and four others were killed.

Our Khulna Office adds: The hartal in Khulna was marked by sporadic violence yesterday. Separate processions were organised by AL, Chhatra League, Juba League and Chhatra Union. A public rally was held at the City AL office in the afternoon protesting against the Habiganj attack. A gayabana janaja was held after the rally for Kibria and four others.

Our Barisal Correspondent adds: Partial hartal was observed amid clashes, chase and counter chase, ransacking of vehicles and injury to 11 picketers in Barisal

Tempos were ransacked and arrested pro-hartal picketers were snatched from police in the city and outskirts.

S M Masud and Maksud Hossain, two BCL activists and Humayun Kabir, ex-UP chairman and AL leader were arrested.

But pro-hartal activists snatched them.

Long distance buses and plane services failed to operate. Post offices, banks and financial institutions operated under close-door.

But river transports, rickshaws, inner city and short distance road transports operated normally during the hartal period.

Our Noakhali Corresponded reports: Hartal was observed in the district almost peacefully. Some ten pro-hartal activists were injured in a clash with Police and BNP activists.