BNP’s countrywide blockade: 3 deaths, arson mark first day

At least 66 people, including 18 policemen, were injured.


On the first day of BNP’s three-day blockade, three motorcycles of ruling Awami League men set on fire after a clash between BNP and AL activists on Dhaka-Rangpur highway in Shajahanpur, Bogura. PHOTO: THE DAILY STAR

November 1, 2023

DHAKA – A clash between police and BNP men left two activists dead in Kishoreganj while a Jubo Dal leader fleeing police on a motorcycle died after crashing into a tree in Sylhet on the first day of BNP-Jamaat’s nationwide blockade yesterday.

Clashes involving the Awami League, the BNP and law enforcers were also reported in Bogura, Narayanganj and Manikganj. At least 66 people, including 18 policemen, were injured.

In the capital, four buses were set on fire near Jatiya Press Club, Postagola, Madhya Badda, and Basabo. Arsonists also set alight a lorry and three motorcycles in Bogura, several vehicles in Rajbari and a truck in Raiganj, Sirajganj, according to firefighters.

The BNP and Jamaat separately called the three-day countrywide blockade of roads, railways, and waterways in protest of what the parties said were police action on their events and arrests of activists.

The BNP also called hartal in Kishoreganj and Sylhet for today protesting the deaths of its activists.

Transport association leaders said long-haul bus services remained mostly suspended due to shortage of passengers. Buses on local and regional routes operated in small numbers.

The blockade also significantly reduced river traffic. Only train services remained unaffected.

In the capital, very few private vehicles were seen on the streets.

Most of the offices and a few educational institutions were open.

Teams of police, Border Guard Bangladesh, and Rab patrolled the roads and highways across the country.

In Kishoreganj’s Kuliarchar upazila, Krishak Dal leader Billal Mia, 40, and Chhatra Dal leader Refayet Ullah Tanoy, 21, died after they were shot by officers during a clash between BNP activists and police, said leaders of the party.

Billal died on the spot while Tanoy died on the way to a hospital.

At least 40 people, including 15 policemen, were injured during the clash.

Nurul Millat, president of Kuliarchar BNP, said police opened fire on a BNP procession around 8:00am.

However, Mohammad Rasel Sheikh, superintendent of police in Kishoreganj, said the BNP supporters attacked law enforcers first.

At one stage, police tried to leave the spot, but the attackers threw bricks at them after the policemen took shelter at an abandoned house, the SP said, adding that officers then opened fire in self-defence.

In Sylhet, BNP activists were demonstrating in the Lalabazar area when police chased them away around 8:30am.

Jubo Dal leader Gilu Ahmed Dilu, 42, who was among the protesters, was fleeing on his motorcycle, but he lost control and crashed into a tree, said Moksud Ahmed, general secretary of Sylhet District Jubo Dal.

“Police took Gilu to a police station even though he was critically injured. They later took him to Sylhet MAG Osmani Medical College Hospital where he died in the afternoon,” he added.

Contacted, Azbahar Ali Sheikh, deputy commissioner of Sylhet Metropolitan Police, refuted the claim that police detained Gilu.

At least 15 BNP and Awami League activists were injured in Bogura town and Shajahanpur upazila as the two camps clashed on Dhaka-Rangpur highway.

In Shajahanpur, AL activists, police, Rab and BGB men clashed with BNP activists, witnesses said.

In Narayanganj’s Araihazar, at least three police personnel were injured as law enforcers and protesters clashed in the morning.

Several vehicles were vandalised on Dhaka-Sylhet highway at the time.

In Manikganj, at least eight BNP activists were injured and three others detained during a clash between BNP supporters and police.

Police detained 22 activists in Chattogram.

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