Hasina rejects talks as Bangladesh unrest toll exceeds 100
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wednesday rejected a call for dialogue with the opposition, saying she will not talk to "murderers" of innocent people as the death toll in the recent political turmoil crossed 100.
Dhaka: Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wednesday rejected a call for dialogue with the opposition, saying she will not talk to "murderers" of innocent people as the death toll in the recent political turmoil crossed 100.
"Talks? With whom? With murderers who are burning people?...Question does not arise," Hasina told reporters as she visited the state-run Dhaka Medical College Hospital where 62 victims of petrol bomb attacks, mostly on passenger buses and trucks, are currently being treated.
The death toll in the political violence caused by Khaleda Zia-led Bangladesh Nationalist Party's (BNP) non-stop nationwide blockade has crossed 100. Some 24 alleged saboteurs have also been killed in what officials claim "encounters" with law enforcement agencies.
The premier said it is "very painful to see that innocent people are burnt to death with petrol bombs" and "very difficult to believe that people can do such inhuman acts".
"We will take steps to put these people on trial...The way it is done at the international level," Hasina said.
Meanwhile, 11 bus passengers and two truckers were injured as firebombs were hurled at a passenger bus in southeastern Feni and an oil tanker in southwestern Bhola late yesterday.
The attacks came two days after authorities restricted movement of inter-district buses at nights as saboteurs tended to take advantage of darkness to carry out the assaults.
"No night coaches will operate until further notice," junior Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said as transport operators had agreed to keep buses off the roads after 9 pm.
Hasina's rejection of the dialogue call came after her ruling Awami League called the proposal of talks - initiated by a civil society forum - as "illogical".
"If we accept the proposal now, it would be a compromise with militancy," commerce minister Tofail Ahmed said yesterday while information minister Hassanul Haq Inu substantiated him saying "there would be no dialogue between humans and demons".
Earlier this week, the Nagorik Samaj, a platform of civil society members, had taken initiative to broker the dialogue.
The forum sent letters to President Abdul Hamid, the Prime Minister and the BNP chairperson, requesting them to take initiatives for holding a national dialogue to resolve the ongoing political crisis.
BNP was virtually in a state of disarray since it boycotted the January 5, 2014 elections but it waged a fierce campaign last month coinciding with the first anniversary of the divisive polls demanding a fresh midterm election.
Hasina rejected the demand and asked Zia to wait until 2019 for the next scheduled polls.