Stray incidents mark shutdownStaff Correspondent
The countrywide dawn-to-dusk hartal enforced on Sunday by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led opposition alliance in protest at the price hike of fuel oils partially disrupted life and businesses in the capital and other cities and towns.
Police in riot gear used tear gas and rubber bullets to break up stray processions in the city as pickets burned and damaged passing vehicles and hurled crude bombs to enforce the 6:00am-6:00pm shutdown.
In Dhaka city, pro-hartal activists came out on the streets in groups in the early morning and torched and vandalised cars, buses and auto-rickshaws at Panthapath, Mirpur, Gulshan Link Road, Shankhari Bazar and Jatrabari.
The Dhaka Metropolitan Police said they had arrested 17 pickets at different places in the capital on the day. The DMP said pickets had vandalised one vehicle and torched two others in
the capital during the hartal hours.
Witnesses said a number of crude bombs were exploded on the Dhaka University campus, in front of the BNP central office and Panthapath, Jatrabari and Mirpur areas.
At Mirpur section 6, pickets burnt a bus of United Paribahan at about 6:15am. A BRTC bus was vandalised near Mirpur Bangla College in the morning.
At Panthapath, the police and pickets chased each other at about 6:30am.The pickets hurled stones at passing vehicles and hurled cocktails in the area.
The witnesses said the pickets burnt a garbage-carrying truck of the city corporation and two auto-rickshaws at Badda at about 10:30am.
In the Old Town of Dhaka, pickets set fire to a car at about 9:30am at Shankhari Bazar. Activists of the Jagannath University unit of Bangladesh Chhatra League clashed with pro-BNP lawyers and pickets on Johnson Road. Police fired rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse the feuding groups.
The clashes started when a procession brought out by pro-opposition lawyers from the Dhaka court premises came face to face with the Chhatra League marchers near the National Medical College and Hospital around 1:15pm.
At Banani, the police fired tear gas when Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal activists tried to march in a precession at about 9:00am. At Jatrabari, pro-hartal pickets damaged a few buses around 7:30am in Kutubkhali area.
At about 3:30pm four cocktails were exploded in front of the BNP central office at Naya Paltan.
Traffic was thin though a good number of rickshaws and auto-rickshaws were seen plying the city streets. Some buses and BRTC double-deckers ferried passengers, mostly office goers and students.
No long-distance buses left the terminals at Gabtali, Mahakhali and Jatrabari during the hartal hours.
New Age correspondents in Chittagong and Sylhet said the general strike passed off peacefully but in Barisal and Khulna it was marked by stray incidents of violence.
In Chittagong motorised vehicles remained off roads and educational institutions, private offices and businesses were closed. A small number of vehicles started plying the streets in the afternoon.
In Khulna some stray incidents of vandalism and chase and counter chase between police and BNP activists took place near Picture Palace cinema intersection. Police arrested 10 pickets, including city BNP organising secretary Fakhrul Alam.
In Barisal the hartal was marked by some stray incidents. Pro-hartal activists burned spent tyres and logs on roads and torched and damaged at least six vehicles, including two buses and two three-wheelers.
A procession of BNP led by lawmaker Mojibor Rahman Sarwar was dispersed by police leaving eight people injured. Police arrested at least four pickets.
In Sylhet, no untoward incidents took place during the strike.
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