NEW DELHI – The dawn-to-dusk general strike called by Hefazat-e-Islam across Bangladesh on Sunday saw multiple incidents of clashes, road blockades and vandalisation and torching of vehicles.
According to Dhaka Tribune, Clashes between Hefazat supporters and law enforcers also left three people dead in Brahmanbaria Sunday, taking the death toll from clashes over the past three days to nine in this district alone.
Sixteen of their leaders and activists belonging to the Hefazat-e-Islam have died around the country since they started protesting against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Bangladesh. They were protesting against the persecuation of Muslims in India under PM Modi’s regime.
On Sunday morning, as the strike started, Hefazat activists blocked Dhaka-Chittagong and Dhaka-Sylhet highways.
At least 30 people were injured in clashes between the police and the strike supporters on the Dhaka-Chittagong highway in Narayanganj.
Hefazat called the strike protesting against the killing of its activists by police and the attack on them by supporters of the ruling party on Friday during their demonstrations against Modi’s visit.
Hundreds of hartal supporters put a blockade on Dhaka-Chittagong highway on Sunday morning by setting tyres on fire. Traffic came to a halt on the highway, causing immense sufferings for commuters.
More than 50 vehicles were damaged and five to six others torched by the Hefazat activists in Shanarpar and Mouchak areas, said Siddhirganj police station SI Nur-e Alam Mia.
Mufti Bashir Ullah, president of Hefazat’s Siddhirganj unit, said they were observing the strike peacefully.
“If the peaceful program is obstructed, the consequences will be dire,” he threatened the local administration.
In Munshiganj, at least 30 people, including an officer-in-charge of police, were injured in clashes between police and Hefazat men in Boro Shikarpur and Shulpur areas of Sirajdikhan upazila. One of them sustained bullet wounds.
In Dhaka, as Hefazat activists gathered at different places, activists of the Awami League and its associate bodies were also seen taking positions on the streets to prevent the hartal supporters.
Hefazat men marched in support of the strike in, Lalbagh, Paltan, Baitul Mukarram Mosque, Mohammadpur, Bosila and Saat Masjid areas.
The ruling party activists demonstrated against the strike at Shahbagh, Bangabandhu Avenue and other places.
The Islami Andolan Bangladesh (Charmonai) also brought out a procession from Baitul Mukarram National Mosque after the Zuhr prayer on Sunday and later gathered in Purana Paltan area.
More than a hundred leaders and activists took part in the procession led by Nayeb-e-Amir Mufti Syed Muhammad Faizul Karim.
In Purana Paltan-Muktangan area, the procession came face to face with another procession of Awami League leaders and activists and they chased each other with sticks and bamboos.
Islami Andolan activists said their procession was not political. Some of their peers were shot dead in the last two days and they were protesting the killing of those people.
Mufti Faizul said they will announce their next step at a press conference Sunday evening.