BNP’s Senior Joint Secretary General Ruhul Kabir Rizvi on Sunday claimed that people are “spontaneously observing” the dawn-to-dusk hartal (shutdown) in protest against ‘massive vote frauds’ in Saturday’s Dhaka city elections.
“People have given their support to our hartal and they also rejected elections to two Dhaka city corporations,” he said, adding that their shutdown is being observed peacefully across the city.
Rizvi along with some party leaders and activists took position in front of their Nayapaltan party office since early morning. BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir also went to the party headquarters around 9:30am.
They brought out a procession early in the morning in support of the hartal in front of their office and burnt a symbolic Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) there.
Later, they took position at the front gate of the party headquarters and shouted slogans in support of hartal. BNP’s Dhaka north mayoral candidate Ishraque Hossain came to Nayapaltan around 11am and joined the protest.
Meanwhile, a huge number of law enforcers were deployed near BNP’s Nayapaltan office and adjoining area to avoid unwanted incident. Around 11:45am, police asked the protesting BNP leaders and activists to leave within half an hour. The protesters left before noon.
Rizvi said they would resume their protest after lunch.
The party’s first shutdown in nearly five years hardly got any response with BNP activists and supporters conspicuously absent in the streets. There was no report of violence until the filing of this report.
Daily affairs were unaffected and there were hardly any shortage of transportation in the morning.
Assistant Commissioner (Traffic-Darussalam) of West Division Jahidur Rahman said the intercity bus service from Dhaka’s Gabtoli remained unaffected while passenger buses are plying across the city as usual but the number of private vehicles is comparatively low.
Meanwhile, the presence of students in the city’s educational institutions is somewhat low.
Mirza Fakhrul called for the shutdown on Saturday evening, reviving the ‘hartal culture’ in Bangladeshi politics. “We completely reject the election results … [and] call hartal for tomorrow (Sunday) … from 6am to 6pm in Dhaka city,” he said.
Jatiya Oikyafront extended its support to the BNP programme.
Awami League mayoral candidates Atiqul Islam and Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh won the mayoral race of Dhaka North City Corporation and Dhaka South City Corporation in Saturday’s election.