2 die as opposition strike in Bangla enters 2nd day
Dhaka: At least two persons were killed in clashes as a 60-hour countrywide strike called by opposition parties demanding a neutral caretaker government in poll-bound Bangladesh entered second day today, raising the overall death toll in violence linked to political unrest to seven.
Supporters of the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its rightwing ally Jamaat-e-Islami stabbed a rival supporter to death in northern Jamalpur, police said.
In Chittagong, a trucker died as his vehicle overturned after picketers threw brick chips at him, they said.
Protesters torched an office of ruling Awami League in the capital city Dhaka. Witnesses said the protesters also hurled a few handmade bombs and raised pro-strike slogans.
They also torched and vandalised at least six vehicles in Dhaka and its adjacent areas. Reports said at least seven bombs were blasted across the city.
A Mobile Court in Dhaka today sentenced three picketers in jail for six months each for carrying explosive substances, police said.
The incidents of clashes, explosions and vandalism were also reported from other parts of Bangladesh.
Yesterday, five persons were killed in violence in towns and cities despite authorities deploying thousands of extra police and paramilitary personnel countrywide to prevent any untoward incident.
Schools, shops and other businesses remained closed across the country today for the strike. But the state media reported that public life in Dhaka remained largely normal as the people joined their works.
The BNP-led 18-party opposition alliance called the strike demanding restoration of the neutral caretaker government system to oversee the country's next general election.
The strike came as telephonic conversation between Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and BNP chief Khaleda Zia on Saturday could make little headway in easing tensions.
Earlier, Hasina has proposed the formation of a caretaker government with representatives of all political parties. Zia, however, rejected her proposal and floated a formula for creating a neutral poll-time caretaker regime.
Zia has also ruled out the possibility of contesting polls, which are to be held by January 25, 2014, if Hasina remained as head of the government. The government is yet to formally respond to Zia's proposal.
The Awami League, which has a three-fourths majority in the current parliament, scrapped the caretaker system by amending the Constitution two years ago. It acted after the Supreme Court ruled that the system was contrary to the Constitution.
The BNP has repeatedly contended that polls will be fair only under a non-party government.