40 injured as Jamaat tries to enforce shutdown in Bangladesh
Dhaka: Hardline Jamaat-e-Islami activists on Tuesday exploded crude bombs and clashed with police, leaving at least 40 people injured, during nationwide protests against a court verdict banning it from contesting elections.
Police had to fire rubber bullets and teargas to disperse the unruly activists who were trying to enforce a 48-hour countrywide shutdown.
The Jamaat later reduced the duration of its shutdown, called to protest a High Court verdict cancelling its registration with the Election Commission, by 12 hours.
The protesters exploded 15 cocktail bombs in Rajshahi, Barisal, Bogra and Chittagong and blocked roads to enforce the shutdown.
They also torched and vandalised at least 34 vehicles in Comilla, Rajshahi, Pirojpur and Chittagong.
Police detained 34 people across the country on charges of plotting subversive activities, attacking law enforcers and damaging vehicles.
The Jamaat had called the nationwide shutdown to protest what it described as "government repression, persecution and plot to eliminate the party" and "to kill our jailed leaders" under allegedly false cases.
"We are making a clarion call to observe the nationwide general strike to protest the blueprint to kill the jailed top Jamaat leaders," the party said in a statement.
Earlier, a large posse of security personnel, including Rapid Action Battalion, were deployed at key points in Dhaka to prevent violence.
On August 1, the Bangladesh High Court had banned Jamaat from contesting future polls, leaving the once-most powerful fundamentalist party with an uncertain future. The court also cancelled its registration with the poll panel.
The court passed the judgement in response to a petition challenging the legality of Jamaat's registration as a political party.
The verdict came at a time when the demand for outlawing the party, blamed for war crimes during the 1971 liberation war against Pakistan, was mounting.
Several top Jamaat leaders, including its 91-year-old supremo Ghulam Azam, were recently sentenced either to death or to long jail terms for masterminding atrocities during the war.