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City people go out to work panicked

Shahin Akhter and MH Maswood

People in the capital Dhaka are going out to work panicked amid the continued blockade the BNP-led opposition alliance is enforcing centring on the demand for an election-time, non-party government, cancellation of the polls schedule and release of opposition leaders arrested during the blockade.
The opposition alliance is now enforcing a 72-hour countrywide blockade of road, railway and waterways beginning Saturday. Earlier in the past week, the alliance enforced a 71-hour such blockade in the past week.
At least 40 people, including three in the capital Dhaka, were killed in clashes and violence during the blockade in two weeks till Tuesday.
A bus was set on fire near the Shahbagh crossing on November 28, leaving 18 people wounded. Two of the wounded died from their injuries. A day after, another bus was bombed at Malibagh, leaving one dead on the spot.
Farhana Jhora, who teachers in a private university in the capital, took two days’ leave for Sunday and Monday after the opposition alliance started enforcing second round of blockade on Saturday morning. On Monday, the alliance extended the duration of the blockade till Thursday and she had to go to work on Tuesday.
‘I do not know when I will fall victim to such violence,’ she told New Age on Tuesday.
There are many others like her who need to go out to work to earn their bread. But they walk down the streets or get into buses panicked as buses are being attacked, bombed or set on fire. They are also panicked because of associated violence on the streets.
Many, however, are staying indoors. Students are not going to schools and exams, in the last month of the year, are being cancelled, deferred or postponed because of the blockade.
Lokman Hossain, a marketing executive in an office at Karwan Bazar, was upset with scary situation.
‘When will it end?” he said adding that his wife was phoning him at 20 times a day to know if he was fine. ‘I need to go out. For how long can I avoid going out in such a situation?’
Kabita, who works in a private hospital at Dhanmondi, was waiting at Shyamoli to catch a bus. She has been carrying for six months.
‘In such a condition, I cannot ride rickshaws and auto-rickshaws because of the jerk. I know it is risky to get into buses during blockade. But I have no other options,’ she told New Age on Sunday.
Jilu and Tasnin, who work as marketing officials in a firm at Dhanmondi, said getting into buses was their first priority. ‘It is risky these days, but cheap,’ Tasnin, who lives at Badda, said. Jilu lives at Shyamoli.
Mohammad Nuruzzaman, a referee who rides his friend’s motorcycle to travel between Dhanmondi and Gulistan, said that that the political chaos was hampering social life of city people.
He said that he had not taken his wife and daughter to his sister’s wedding fearing violence.
The Bangladesh Road Transport Owners’ Association secretary general, K Enayetullah, told New Age that they were worried about the well-being of their workers as buses were the main targets during blockade..
He said many drivers and their assistants had died in arson attack during the blockade but they needed run their vehicles as they needed to earn to run their family.

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Blockade violence kills 10

From left, members of Islami Shashantantra Andolan visit arson victims at Dhaka Medical College Hospital and pray for their recovery and peace of the country; schoolboy Belal undergoes treatment at DMCH with injuries after pickets hurled bomb at Pahartali in Chittagong; Lima, a minor, undergoes treatment at Dhaka Orthopaedic Hospital as she sustained injuries from a crude bomb blast at Ibrahimpur in Dhaka on Tuesday during opposition blockade. — New Age/Focusbangla photo
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