Bangladesh opposition braces for nationwide blockade, 1 killed

A fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami leader was killed in Bangladesh in a clash with security forces as the opposition geared up for a non-stop nationwide blockade from the New Year to derail the January 5 polls.

PTI| Updated: Dec 31, 2013, 13:37 PM IST

Dhaka: A fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami leader was killed on Tuesday in Bangladesh in a clash with security forces as the opposition geared up for a non-stop nationwide blockade from the New Year to derail the January 5 polls.

Police said local Jamaat leader Abdul Jabbar was killed in a clash between the opposition activists and joint forces comprising paramilitary Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) and police in western Meherpur district, bordering India.

"The members of the law enforcement agencies were injured in the gunfight," a police official told a TV channel.

In the capital Dhaka, BNP activists took out processions and exploded bombs in old part of the city as it called for a nationwide protest today.
The main opposition BNP led by Kahleda Zia last night called for the nationwide blockade of roads, railways and waterways after it was barred for the second consecutive day from staging "march for democracy" in the capital.

The BNP-led 18-party alliance has been demanding Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina`s resignation and scrapping of the polls.

BNP chairperson`s advisor Khandker Mahbub Hossain said the non-stop nationwide blockade starting from January 1 would continue until further announcement.

He asked opposition activists to stage "peaceful" protest rallies across the country today as a warm up exercise ahead of the blockade.
The opposition has dubbed the polls as "farcical" as over half of the candidates in the 300-seat Parliament were set to be declared unopposed in the absence of rival contenders from the opposition.

The alliance earlier enforced identical blockades for nearly a month from November 26 after the Election Commission declared the schedule for the polls amid stalemate over the nature of poll-time government.

The opposition has been demanding Hasina`s replacement, saying elections under her administration would not be credible.

But, the ruling Awami League turned down the demand calling it "unconstitutional" and "illogical".

Bangladesh`s capital was effectively cut off from the rest of the country for the second day yesterday, with transport services into Dhaka halted to stop opposition supporters from entering the city.

Some transport operators, including the state-run railway, said they suspended the services fearing sabotages while pro-government transport associations called strikes protesting past weeks of violence.

Police also laid a siege around Zia`s residence and BNP`s central office at Nayapaltan.

Police`s armoured personnel carriers (APCs) and water canons were positioned at areas deemed trouble spots.

According to figures, over 122 people have been killed in the past one month since the opposition started enforcing blockade.