Fears of violence as Bangla opposition set for general strike

Bangladesh`s main opposition party BNP will enforce a nationwide anti-government general strike on Sunday to oppose its policies.

Dhaka: Bangladesh`s main opposition party
BNP will enforce a nationwide anti-government general strike
on Sunday to oppose its policies, including compromising
national interests amid fears of violence, with the ruling
Awami League-led coalition determined to crackdown on those
creating "anarchy and disorder" in the country.

Khaleda Zia, the chief of the Bangladesh Nationalist
Party (BNP), announced the anti-government campaign last month
for "compromising national interests by signing deals with
India during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s maiden New Delhi
tour in January, oppose "tender-grabbing and extortions by
government cronies and deteriorating services.

"This hartal is a warning signal for the government...
I am telling the people in power, you still have time to
correct yourself, the former Prime Minister warned.

However, the government today decided to crackdown on
those who attempt to create anarchy in the country.

Law Minister Qamrul Islam told reporters that the
government had no plans to confront the protesters, but
warned: "We will not tolerate anarchy or disorder during the
hartal".

"The government will strictly oppose any attempts to
create anarchy and disorder . . . It is the government`s
responsibility to protect its people and their assets," he
underlined.

The minister’s warning came as Dhaka’s police chief
AKM Shahidul Haque told mediapersons that an additional 10,000
force will be deployed in the capital to maintain order.

He said police would not prevent the BNP from its
planned hartal, but stern actions would be taken if they try
to create anarchy by vandalising vehicles or setting those on
fire.

During Hasina`s New Delhi visit, Bangladesh and India
signed three agreements to jointly combat the menace while New
Delhi announced a one-billion dollar line of credit to Dhaka.

India decided to give 250MW of power to Bangladesh
from the central grid while they signed a power-sharing
agreement. Bangladesh also promised not to allow its territory
to be used for terror against India.

Political parties have frequently resorted to
shutdowns and general strikes in Bangladesh to pressure the
government, often leading to violence, political deadlock and
seriously crippling its economy.

A UNDP report in 2005 calculated the net loss in one
day`s shutdown to around Taka 500 crore while it cost the
country 3 to 4 percent of its GDP on an average every year
between 1991 and 2000.

PTI

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