Opposition-led strike in Bangladesh turns violent

A general strike is a common opposition tactic to embarrass the government in Bangladesh.

Dhaka: At least 50 people were injured in Bangladesh in clashes between protesters and police on Wednesday, the first day of a two-day strike called by opposition parties to protest against the abolition of a system of holding national elections under a non-partisan caretaker administration.

Police detained nearly a dozen activists from former prime minister Begum Khaleda Zia`s Bangladesh Nationalist party (BNP) and the Jamaat-e-Islami party during the strike which partially disrupted transport and business across the country.

The injured included Jainal Abedin Faruk, a senior BNP leader, who police officer Kazi Wazed Ali said attacked security forces trying to prevent a street march in the capital, Dhaka.

Home Minister Sahara Khatun expressed her sorrow over the injuries to Faruk, a member of parliament and BNP`s chief whip, but she said "political leaders should also behave properly with law enforcers."

BNP`s acting secretary-general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir told reporter "the attack on Faruk was intended to kill him and this showed how vindictive a government can be toward its rivals."

Clashes took place in Dhaka, the southern port city of Chittagong, and a few other cities in the north and the east. At least 10 vehicles were torched in the capital overnight.

Bangladesh`s parliament on June 30 amended the constitution to abolish the caretaker system introduced in 1996 to try to end the violence and fraud that have often marred voting in the South Asian country.

The Bangladesh Supreme Court in May also ruled the caretaker system unconstitutional.

The main opposition BNP is also incensed by the framing of charges against Khaleda`s elder son Tareque Zia this week for involvement in a 2004 grenade attack on a political rally addressed by then opposition leader and current prime minister Sheikh Hasina.

Hasina and Khaleda have dominated the nation`s politics for two decades, and analysts fear that their renewed confrontation could plunge the country back into turmoil.

Bureau Report

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