Dhaka: Two persons were shot dead as Bangladesh`s main opposition BNP and its allies today began a 72-hour nationwide blockade to push for the postponement of general elections, a day after ending another protest that claimed 22 lives.
Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) leader Ruhul Kabir Rizvi said the fresh blockade is aimed at mounting pressure on the Awami League-led caretaker government to cancel the January 5, 2014 polls and release their detained leaders and activists.
One demonstrator was shot dead by police today while another died and five others were injured in overnight clashes as police used live ammunition, rubber bullets and teargas to disperse protesters in Kotchandpur.
The BNP-led alliance has rejected the interim setup led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and demanded the installation of a "non-party" government to conduct the elections.
The Awami League rejected the demand, describing it as "unconstitutional", while Hasina has asked the opposition to join the multi-party caretaker set-up. She even offered the home ministry to the BNP.
"We have compromised a lot. But she (BNP chief Khaleda Zia) doesn`t want an election. We can even give you the home ministry if you want. Come and join the polls," Hasina said.
"She (Khaleda) has nothing called humanity within her. She has gone mad for power," she alleged.
Shortly after Rizvi addressed the media, he was arrested in a pre-dawn raid at the BNP central office on charges of instigating Thursday`s arson attack on a bus that left two dead and 17 injured. A Dhaka court sent him to jail and will hear his bail plea on December 4.
"The government is arresting our leaders and activists to stop the movement by breaking into the BNP central office. The oppressive measures will not be able to crush its movement," another BNP leader Salahuddin Ahmed said after the raid.
Communications Minister Obaidul Quader said efforts to reach a consensus to end the political deadlock are going on behind the scenes.
"No BNP leader will remain behind bars when these (efforts for consensus) will be made public," he told a news briefing.
"All kinds of political talks at first take place behind the curtains. The dialogue is made public when it takes a turn to yield positive results," Quader said.