Police attack on pickets marks hartal
100 injured in capitalStaff Correspondent
The police on Wednesday used pepper spray, water cannons and batons to disperse leftist activists in the capital to foil the half-day nationwide six-hour general strike enforced in protest at the latest rise in fuel oil prices.
Left leaders claimed that repeated police attacks left at least 100 activists injured in the city.
At a post-hartal press conference at the CPB office, its president Mujahidul Islam Selim claimed that the strike was successful with spontaneous response of the people.
The left parties have announced agitations across the country for Thursday in protest against the police attacks.
Activists of Communist Party of Bangladesh and Socialist Party of Bangladesh and Democratic Left Alliance blocked roads and marched in small processions singing patriotic songs in the capital and other places in the early hours of the strike.
Police attacked the activists to disperse them.
The left parties called for the government to revoke the latest round of fuel oil price hike saying that power prices should not be increased ‘at the prescriptions of the International Monetary Fund.’
The main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party extended its support to the 6:00am-12:00 noon general strike.
Witnesses said the police attacked activists of the DLA, using chloropicrin-enriched pepper spray and tear gas at Purana Paltan crossing early in the morning.
They attacked the pickets in front of Pritam Hotel, where more than 20 activists were injured, including Revolutionary Workers Party general
secretary Saiful Huq and Democratic Revolutionary Party general secretary Mushrefa Mishu.
At about 7:00am, police charged into a joint rally of CPB and BSD using pepper spray, tear gas and water cannon, leaving more than 30 activists, including BSD general secretary Khalequzzaman injured. CPB general secretary Syed Abu Zafar Ahmed and central leader Fazlur Rahman were also injured.
Khalequzzaman received first aid at Dhaka Medical College Hospital.
Police also broke up a rally of the CPB and BSD in front of the CPB central office using tear gas and charging batons.
CPB and BSD will also hold countywide protests and rally in front of the Press Club today to register protest against the police attacks on the hartal pickets.
CPB general secretary Syed Abu Zafar Ahmed also announced a series of programmes, including a ‘grand rally’ in the capital for February 16, handing over memorandums to the upazila nirbahi officers demanding solution of the farmers’ problems and handing over a memorandum to the speaker on February 4.
After the hartal, DLA coordinator and chief coordinator of Ganasanghati Andolan Zonayed Saki, at a news briefing, demanded resignation of
home minister Muhiuddin Khan Alamgir for the police attacks on their peaceful rallies.
The combine will hold countrywide demonstrations and rally in front of the National Press Club today in protest at the police atrocities.
The DLA, CPB and BSD held rallies and marched in small processions in Purana Paltan area during the hartal hours defying frequent police attacks.
Traffic was thin and most shops remained closed during the hartal hours. Long-route buses did not leave terminals in the city.
Schools and most private offices were also closed for the day. Train and launch services, however, were normal.
Rickshaws and CNG-run three-wheelers dominated the roads.
CPB, SPB and DLA activists, carrying the national and red flags, marched in processions down Purana Paltan, Topkhana Road, Shahbagh, Mohammadpur, Mirpur, Lalbagh, Azimpur, Sutrapur, Jatrabari, Bahadur Shah Park and Abdullahpur during the strike hours.
Udichi Shilpi Goshthi sang patriotic songs at different points.
The Democratic Left Alliance comprising Revolutionary Workers Party of Bangladesh, Ganatantrik Biplabi Party, Bangladesher Communist League, Bangladesher Workers Party (Reconstituted), Bangladesher Samajtantrik Dal (Mahbub), Bangladesher Samajtantrik Andolan and Ganasnghati Andolan also enforced the strike demanding withdrawal of the increased fuel prices.
United News of Bangladesh reported that hartal passed off peacefully in major cities and towns, including Chittagong, Sylhet, Barisal, Rangpur and Comilla.
In Sylhet motorised vehicles kept off the city streets and pro-hartal activists marched in small processions during the strike hours.
In Barisal, pickets staged sit-in without obstacles during the strike hours.
In Rajshahi the hartal was observed peacefully with activists of CPB, BSD and others left parties holding small rallies and picketing the roads.
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