Police said main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir and two other senior party leaders were freed from their custody after the overnight detention but they charged 154 others for attacking security forces and exploding crude bombs.
The development came as the BNP and its rightwing allies including Jamaat-e-islami enforced a nationwide shutdown during which opposition activists exploded homemade bombs, damaged a number of vehicles and clashed with police in Dhaka and several other cities but no casualty was reported.
Paramilitary Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) troops were called out to enforce a security vigil in the capital along with police and elite anti-crime rapid Action Battalion but the opposition activists staged clandestine attacks on vehicles evading the vigil.
The BNP-led 18-party alliance called the hartal after a rally of theirs was spoiled when unidentified men exploded crude bombs at the scene in front of the party's central Naya Paltan office.
Alamgir and a string of top party leaders were arrested from the party office as the BNP called for the nationwide shutdown protesting the attack on the rally while police subsequently swooped into its main office and arrested dozens of activists and seized several crude bombs.
BNP was waging a campaign over electoral system demanding restoration of a caretaker government system for election oversight as the national election was due next year but ongoing trials of several stalwarts of its crucial ally Jamaat for 1971 war crimes visibly shifted their issue.
After an initial dilemma BNP eventually put its weight towards their ally calling the trial a witch-hunt as to of its own leaders out of the 12 accused were exposed to trial on identical charges of "crimes against humanity" siding with Pakistani troops.
Dhaka: Bangladesh police on Tuesday released a key opposition leader, a day after he was detained along with 154 others in a major crackdown for allegedly attacking police and exploding crude bombs during a nationwide shutdown in support of Jamaat leaders convicted of 1971 war crimes.
First Published: Tuesday, March 12, 2013, 20:15