In Bangladesh, the first day of the nationwide three-day road-rail-waterway blockade, enforced by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party and like-minded opposition parties, was marked by stray incidents of violence including clashes with police and torching vehicles. The blockade that started at 6 a.m. on Tuesday will end at 6 p.m. on Thursday.
The opposition leaders and activists were seen taking positions on different roads across the country, including in the capital, to enforce the blockade. They also engaged in clashes with the law enforcers in different districts, leaving two persons dead in Kishoreganj. Meanwhile, six vehicles were torched across Bangladesh. Of them, three buses torched in Chattogram, two pick-up vans in Narayanganj and a bus near the High Court in Dhaka during the blockade programme.
The blockade is to mount pressure on the Awami League government to quit and hold the next election which is due in January, 2024 under a non-party, neutral administration. Banned political party Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami also enforced the blockade simultaneously with the same demands.
In response to the 72-hour blockade called by BNP, Jamaat and associate parties, Awami League is holding a march and sit-in programme on the streets. Ruling party’s leaders and activists were seen shouting the slogan in favour of Sheikh Hasina government while protesting the opposition’s blockade.
Public transport systems within cities disrupted and long route bus services between major cities were suspended from Tuesday morning due to growing concerns over the three-day blockade. Due to panic conditions and street violence, low-income people including street vendors in the cities are bearing the brunt of political uncertainty as their daily sales or income have dropped sharply.
Meanwhile, Chief Election Commissioner of Bangladesh Kazi Habibul Awal said the 12th national polls would be held as scheduled regardless of whether the environment for elections is favourable. He told reporters after holding a meeting with US Ambassador Peter Haas on Tuesday.
He said whether or not the environment is favourable, they were expecting that ultimately most political parties would join the polls and make the environment favourable, reports UNB.