The nationwide dawn-to-dusk hartal, enforced by Hefazat-e-Islam, passed off on Sunday amid sporadic incidents of clashes, vandalism, arson attacks and roads blockades at different parts of the country.
However, the hartal that began around 6:00am and ended at 6:00pm had little impact on the everyday life of people in the capital, except the low presence of public vehicles on the city streets. Rickshaws dominated the streets of the capital as usual, reports UNB.
A large number of law enforcers remained deployed at important city points to fend off any trouble.
Only a few long-distance buses left Dhaka for different districts while the train service was normal with poor presence of passengers.
Hefazat activists brought out processions in the capital’s different areas, including Jatrabari, Paltan, Baitul Mukarram, Lalbagh, Mohammadpur and Basila, in support of the shutdown.
Hefazat activists blocked Jatrabari and Signboard in the morning setting fire to tyres.
The Hefazat supporters took position on Basila Bridge in the capital’s Mohammadpur area and blocked the roads there. They also put barricades on roads near Mohammadpur bus stand by setting fire to tyres in the morning.
Pro-hartal pickets locked into a clash with Chhatra League activists in Saat Masjid area over blocking roads.
However, police brought the situation under control by dispersing the hartal supporters.
Police also foiled an attempt of blocking roads by the pro-hartal elements in the city’s Lalbagh area.
According to reports reaching the UNB news desk, the hartal supporters engaged in clashes and vandalism and arson attacks in different districts, leaving many people injured damaging vehicles, destroying different offices and public property.
In Narayanganj, at least 30 people were injured, including one with bullet, in a clash between hartal supporters and members of law enforcement agencies in Mouchak area of Siddhirganj upazila.
Jayedul Islam, superintendent of Narayanganj Police, said some hartal supporters took position in Mouchak area and put barricade on a road by placing logs and burning tyres at noon.
At one stage, police and BGB men tried to disperse them, triggering a chase and counter-chase.
The hartal supporters also hurled brick chips at police and BGB men, forcing them to take action, he said. A young man, Sakib, suffered bullet wound during the clash.
Besides, some students of Madaninagar Madrasah put barricade on Dhaka-Chittagong highway by burning tires from Sanarpar to Shimrail crossing in the morning, disrupting Dhaka’s road communications with Chattogram and Sylhet.
A young man, Mohammad Shakil, was injured when BGB opened fired as the hartal pickets carried out attacks near Sanarpar bus stand around 11:00am.
Following the incidents, local people damaged some vehicles by throwing stones and brick chips on Dhaka-Chattogram highway.
The hartal supporters also blocked different points on Dhaka-Chattogram and Dhaka-Sylhet highways with burning tyres, halting traffic movement for several hours.
In Brahmanbaria, Hefazat-e-Islam activists set fire to three buildings, including the land office in Sadar upazila.
They attacked a Chattogram-bound train at Talshohor Rail Station in Brahmanbaria town, halting train communications on Dhaka-Chattogram and Dhaka-Sylhet routes.
Witnesses said the activists of Hefazat-e-Islam intercepted Chattogram-bound ‘Sonar Bangla Express’ train in the morning and pelted brick chips towards it.
The hartal supporters set fire to Alauddin Music Academy building, land office in Sadar upazila and Industrial School building during the mayhem.
They also carried out vandalism in some private and government establishments, including Zila Parishad building, municipality building, Police Lines, Industrial School, Land office, Alauddin Music Academy, Foirtala Bus Stand in Sadar upazila.
Meanwhile, the hartal supporters also attacked Brahmanbaria Press Club and confined some journalists to the club building.
President of Brahmanbaria Press Club Riaz Uddin Jami was injured in an attack by the hartal supporters.
Al Mamun Sarkar, general secretary of district unit Awami League, said, “The hartal supporters vandalised different private and government buildings and they also carried out arson attack.”
In Chattogram, the shutdown was observed almost peacefully.
Road communications between the port city and other parts of the country remained suspended since Sunday noon as no long-route bus left Chattogram due to the hartal.
Some students of Al Jamiatul Ahlia Darul Ulum Moinul Islam Madrasah cut roads and created a number of holes on Chattogram-Khagrachhari highway early Sunday, disrupting communications on the road.
Local police officer Rajib Sharma said the activists of Hefazat-e-Islam on Saturday blocked Chattogram-Khagrachhari road and set fire to Upazila Duckbanglow in the afternoon.
Two motorbikes kept in the storeroom of the Duckbanglow were gutted. Besides, additional police and BGB men were deployed in Hathazari Bus Stand area.
Additional police, RAB and BGB members patrolled 14 upazilas of the district to avert any untoward incident centering the hartal.
Some activists of Hefazat-e-Islam brought out processions at Bakolia, Halishahar in the city and took position on roads at different parts of the district.
Besides, a number of processions brought out in Patiya, Banshkhali and Fatikchharia upazilas in support of the hartal.
In Sylhet, at least five people were injured as Hefazat activists engaged in a clash with ruling party supporters in the city.
The clash ensued in Bandarbazar area as Chhatra League activists from their anti-hartal procession chased some Hefazat activists.
The activists of Hefazat-e-Islam brought out processions in different parts of the city, including the Court point, after Fazr prayers. No long-route buses left the district in the morning.
Alongside police, officials said, RAB and BGB members and six magistrates were on vigil to maintain law and order in the city.
In Rajshahi, unidentified criminals set fire to two stationary buses of Bangladesh Road Transport and Corporation (BRTC) at Rajshahi Truck Terminal in the city’s Amchattar area on Sunday during the hartal.
Senior station officer of Fire Service and Civil Defence of Rajshahi Abdur Rauf said the criminals set ablaze a BRTC bus around 6:30 am and the fire spread to another stationary bus of BRTC.
On information, firefighters rushed to the spot and extinguished the blaze.
However, no causality was reported.
In Kishoreganj, Hefazat activists attacked Awami League office in the district town and ransacked it.
The attack was made from a procession brought out by Hefazat in support of the hartal.
The attackers damaged the portraits of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujubur Rahman and the four national leaders by setting those ablaze. They also damaged the office furniture and beat some ruling party leaders.
Later, Awami League activists brought out a procession against the hartal and clashed with Hefazat activists at Goranga Bazar.
On in formation, police and BGB members rushed in and brought the situation under control by charging batons and firing teargas and blank shoots.
Hefazat-e-Islam announced the daylong countrywide hartal at a press briefing at Purana Paltan in the capital on Friday night.
They also held nationwide demonstrations on Saturday protesting the killings of its activists by police and the attack on them by the supporters of the ruling party in the capital, Chattogram’s Hathazari and Brahmanbaria.