Hartal hardly affects life

Staff Correspondent
Locals rescue an injured passenger after Jamaat-e-Islami activists vandalise and set ablaze a bus during strike hours at Shyampur on the outskirts of Dhaka on Thursday. — New Age photo

Locals rescue an injured passenger after Jamaat-e-Islami activists vandalise and set ablaze a bus during strike hours at Shyampur on the outskirts of Dhaka on Thursday. — New Age photo

The first phase of the 72-hour countrywide general strike called by Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami passed off loosely in the capital while pro-hartal pickets clashed with law enforcers and vandalised vehicles in some outlying districts.
Law enforcers, like past couple of days, conducted massive drives across the country and rounded up about 500 people suspecting them to be Jamaat-Shibir men on Wednesday and Thursday.
Jamaat-e-Islami called the staggered 72-hour hartal for Thursday and Sunday and Monday in protest at what it called ‘conspiracies’ to ‘kill’ its amir Motiur Rahman Nizami in ‘false’ cases.
The 24-hour first phase of hartal hardly affected life in the city while a 48-hour second phase is scheduled to begin at 6:00am Sunday.
Apart from bringing out surprise processions at places in the capital in the early hours, no pickets were seen during the hartal hours. Pickets, however, tried to block roads on different routes outside Dhaka, blasting crude bombs, setting spent tyres on fire and putting logs on the road.
Traffic was thinner than usual in the capital but long-route buses did not leave Gabtali, Mahakhali and Syedabad terminals. Many business establishments were open in the city but classes were not held in the educational institutions. Pickets set fire to a bus at Kadamtali Thursday evening, injuring two passengers.
Ferries sailed from Sadarghat terminal and trains left Kamalapur railway station on schedule with less passengers than usual.
Law enforcers remained on alert across the country to thwart any attempts to create trouble. Large police contingents and RAB teams were seen guarding key points in Dhaka.
Jamaat alleged that law enforcers and ruling party men had put obstacles to their campaigns in favour of the shutdown across the country.
Jamaat acting secretary general Shafiqur Rahman in a statement claimed that the police had opened fire on their processions at different parts in the country, leaving over 150 activists injured.
He called on the countrymen to make successful the next phase of hartal beginning Sunday morning.
New Age correspondents from outlaying districts, including Chittagong, Rajshahi, Bogra, Barisal and Sylhet, reported that the shutdown was marked by sporadic clashes between pro-hartal activists and law enforcers.
According to the reports, police arrested a total of 59 Jamaat-Shibir men in Sylhet, four in Netrakona, 56 in Jessore, four in Naogaon, including Mahadevpur upazila unit Shibir president, nine in Lalmonirhat, 23 in Lakshmipur, 17 in Thakurgaon, 55 in Rangpur, including Jamaat-supported Mithapukur upazila vice chairman,  26 in Rajshahi, including Jamaat’s working committee member Ataur Rahman, 15 in Brahmanbaria, 87 in Bogra, 58 in Pabna, five in Chuadanga, four in Bianibazar, five in Savar and Ashulia, eight in Manikganj, 10 in Jaipurhat, 11 in Panchagarh and 25 in Kurigram.
New Age correspondent in Bogra said Jamaat- Shibir men brought out small processions in different areas of the town and clashed with police when they were intercepted.
Jamaat-Shibir men started fire on roads and, in response, law enforcers fired gunshots to disperse pickets, injuring at least five of them.
New Age Rangpur correspondent said that at least 11 vehicles were vandalised by pickets at Palashbari in Gaibandha on Dhaka-Rangpur highway.
Rajshahi correspondent said police fired tear gas and gunshots to disperse pickets at different points in the northern city leaving at least five Jamaat-Shibir men injured.

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