Helper of a truck suffered burn injuries from a petrol bomb attack in Narayanganj’s Sonargaon area on Tuesday (November 28, 2023) night. Md Saimon, 20, is currently undergoing treatment at Sheikh Hasina National Institute of Burn and Plastic Surgery. Miscreants hurled a petrol bomb at the truck at Singlabo area, said Sheikh Billal Hossain, additional superintendent of police in Narayanganj. Bus set on fire in Gazipur during 24-hour blockade Police are working to identify the arsonist, he said. The tiles-carrying truck was on its way to Sirajganj from Sonargaon’s Meghnaghat area through the Asian Highway. Car torched, bombs exploded at the house of Feni BNP leader The truck driver managed to get down quickly, and several parts of the truck were burnt. Locals rescued the helper and rushed him to hospital. On information, police rushed to the spot and extinguished the fire with the help of locals. Crude bombs explode near Sitakunda AL leader’s house
Miscreants set a stationary bus on fire in Mohadevpur upazila of Naogaon district on Sunday (November 26, 2023) night during the ongoing 48-hour blockade called by the BNP and some like-minded parties. Locals said miscreants set the bus of ‘Rahi Travels’ on fire around 11:30 pm. Being informed, a firefighting unit from Mohadevpur station rushed to the spot and doused the flame, said the fire station’s team leader Ashraful Rahman, adding that 50 percent of the bus got burnt. Read more: Dialogue possible with political parties, not arsonists: Hasan Mahmud Mozaffar Hossain, officer-in-charge of Mohadevpur Police Station, said they arrested two BNP workers in this connection. The arrestees are Sujauzzaman Raju, 55, president of Ward No.1 under Mohadevpur union the upazila and local activist Ataur Rahaman Ata, he said. Legal actions will be taken in this regard, the OC added. Read more: No way to compromise with arsonists: PM Hasina
Police foiled a sabotage attempt of miscreants to derail a train in Fatullah on Dhaka-Narayanganj route, ahead of the latest 48-hour road-rail-waterway blockade across Bangladesh called by BNP, Jamaat and like-minded opposition parties. Mokhlesur Rahman, sub-inspector of Narayanganj Government Railway Police, said miscreants attached a heavy iron plate to the rail line at Kotolerbagh in an attempt to derail the train. Locals first noticed it and informed police through the national emergency number 999. 562 arrested by RAB on charges of sabotage since Oct 28 On information, police rushed to the spot and removed the iron plate from the rail line. Police are trying to arrest those involved in the sabotage attempt, he said. RAB arrests 4, including Sramik Dal leader, from Dhaka's Jatrabari in sabotage case
A 48-hour hartal — called by BNP, Jamaat and like-minded opposition parties — protesting the general election schedule announced by the Election Commission (EC) is underway from this morning (November 19, 2023) amid fear of violence. This is the first hartal being observed by the opposition parties since the EC announced the polls schedule. BNP, Jamaat and other opposition parties called the hartal after they had earlier observed five countrywide blockades of roads, rail and waterways. The blockades were marked by frequent burning of vehicles, particularly buses, in Dhaka and elsewhere in the country. The presence of law enforcement personnel at several points in Dhaka is higher today compared to the previous blockades. Read more: 'Scrap polls schedule, create atmosphere for fair election first': BNP Number of public transport on Dhaka streets was fewer than that during the blockades. Many were seen heading towards their destinations on foot amid heightened tension and fear of violence. Rickshaws are dominating Dhaka streets while a few private vehicles are on the road. Unidentified arsonists set seven vehicles on fire, including a passenger train, in Dhaka and across the country between 7 pm last night and 6 am today, ahead of the 48-hour countrywide hartal. Three buses were torched in the capital’s Gulistan, Dhanmondi and Mirpur areas last night. Read more: Jatiya Party to decide on joining or boycotting polls within a couple of days:Chunnu One bus each in Cumilla and Chattogram and a pickup van in Joypurhat were also set on fire ahead of the hartal. Arsonists set three compartments of ‘Jamuna Express’ train on fire in Sarishabari upazila of Jamalpur early today. Miscreants exploded three crude bombs in front of the residence of Dhaka University vice chancellor last night, spreading panic among students. At a press briefing yesterday, BNP leader Ruhul Kabir Rizvi called upon people from all walks of life and opposition leaders and activists to observe the hartal peacefully and make it a success. Read more: 12th JS election: Shakib buys AL nomination forms for 3 different constituencies
The United States has reiterated that it remains neutral, without taking any side, and urged all political parties of Bangladesh to de-escalate and eschew violence and find ways for peaceful elections. “We are on no particular political party’s side. We want free and fair elections conducted in a peaceful manner,” US Ambassador to Bangladesh Peter Haas told reporters today (November 15, 2023). No scope for dialogue now: Quader acknowledges receiving Donald Lu’s letter from Peter Haas He called upon all sides to de-escalate, eschew violence and try to figure out a way to have dialogue without pre-conditions to improve the election atmosphere. Ambassador Haas made the remarks after a meeting with Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader at the Secretariat. Peter Haas has requested meetings with senior leaders of 3 major parties: US Embassy He said they delivered the same message to all political parties in Bangladesh, that the United States remains neutral ahead of the upcoming polls. Earlier, Ambassador Haas requested meetings with senior leaders of the three major political parties to underscore the US position regarding the upcoming election. Haas meets CEC, hopes all sides will engage in dialogue without preconditions Meanwhile, US State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller on Tuesday said, “We have consistently said that we believe elections in Bangladesh should be free and fair and open, and they should take place free of violence.”
Bangladesh has expressed its displeasure to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk over a recent letter to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and a press note on the country “without waiting for fuller information and facts.” “We expect that human rights mechanisms would give themselves adequate time before jumping to conclusions without the benefit of full facts to avoid the risks of being influenced by rumors and unverified information,” according to Bangladesh’s response to Türk on November 10. The letter seen by UNB notes that the UN rights chief’s letter, dated November 1, 2023, addressed to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, has been written “hastily without waiting for fuller information and facts” to emerge and without allowing sufficient time for reflection. The letter mentioned that a press note was also “hurriedly released” from Türk’s office on the same issue without consulting Bangladesh, and without taking into consideration the facts and figures the country provided along with “horrific images and video footage taken from neutral sources.” Guided by the obligations emanated from the constitution, Bangladesh side said that the government has been allowing and extending necessary cooperation to all political parties including Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) to arrange assemblies, protests, processions etc. Read: Bangladesh can be an ideal location for BRI, IPS cooperation: Prof Imtiaz In this spirit the government allowed mass assemblies convened by different political parties on October 28, 2023 on the streets of Dhaka despite the declared objective of a major opposition party – BNP – to create anarchy and disconnect Dhaka from other parts of Bangladesh as a pressure tactic, reads the letter. During its rally and strike on October 28-29, the unruly activists of BNP – “misguided” by the propaganda of its leaders – took recourse to indiscriminate street violence, arson, other forms of violent activities on the apolitical law enforcement agency members, police stations, CCTV cameras, the judiciary, media personnel, innocent civilians, state institutions, hospitals, ambulances, fire service vehicles and public properties, according to Bangladesh’s reply to Türk. A member of the police was beaten to death while more than 100 police officers were injured, a bus worker was burnt alive, residences of the chief justice of Bangladesh and other judges of the Supreme Court were attacked, it said. Read: Economy buffeted by political unrest amid declining forex reserves: Analysts On the following days, as BNP spread the “campaign of arson and terror” all over Bangladesh, a few more people were killed, reads the letter. “It is unfortunate that BNP unleashed its attacks on the on-duty media personnel. TV cameras were snatched away and at least 25 journalists were attacked, several of whom were admitted to hospitals. Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists (BFUJ) condemned these attacks by the BNP activists,” according to Bangladesh’s response. In the letter, Bangladesh said Türk’s office should conduct an unbiased assessment of BNP’s targeted attacks on the press impeding freedom of expression. “Let me reassure you that our law enforcement agencies (LEAs) are well-trained to apply minimal and optimal force as they seek to prevent destruction of property or lives. Our LEAs deserve appreciation for being reasonable and restrained despite a member of the Police being mercilessly beaten to death by BNP hoodlums,” reads the letter. The current government, as a democratically elected one, is committed to uphold the rule of law and ensure peace and security, it said. Every single arrest made following the incident of October 28, was based on specific allegations against the persons concerned, Bangladesh said. “There has been no arbitrary arrest and detention, and we assure them access to full legal recourse as allowed under domestic laws,” the letter said. Read: Uncertainty, tension grip students, parents amid raging political crisis In its reply, Bangladesh also mentioned that BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia was convicted on corruption charges in two cases while a few other cases are ongoing – all of which were filed during the 2007-08 caretaker administration. Considering her health condition, based on the application of her family members, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina suspended her sentence under legal provision. “Begum Khaleda Zia was offered a release for a period of six months on conditions of (a) taking treatment in Bangladesh and (b) not leaving the country. She accepted the conditions under which she was released on 25 March 2020 and her release tenure was extended several times,” said the government of Bangladesh. Bangladesh in its reply mentioned that she has been receiving treatment of the highest standard at the Evercare Hospital, one of the best hospitals in Bangladesh, as per her choice. Recently, her family members and the leadership of BNP sought permission from the government to bring specialist doctors from the USA for her treatment. The government accorded its permission. Bangladesh appreciated engagement of Türk’s office with the government of Bangladesh on the recent developments. “As Bangladesh is constructively and consistently engaged with the UN mechanisms in promoting and protecting human rights, we expect our steadfast commitment would be reciprocated with the spirit of cooperation and proportionality,” reads the letter to the UN rights chief. Read EC to announce polls schedule in a couple of days: PM Hasina
On average, more than nine arson attacks have been reported across Bangladesh every day between October 28 and November 13, Fire Service and Civil Defense said today (November 14, 2023). "A total of 154 arson attacks were reported across the country during this period, leaving 5 people injured,” said Talha Bin Jashim, station officer of the Fire Service and Civil Defence's media cell. Of these, 82 arson attacks were in Dhaka city, he added. Read: Fire Service records 9 arson attacks in the country in 10 hrs According to the fire service, out of 154 arson attacks across the country, 116 incidents occurred in Dhaka division, 14 in Chattogram, 9 in Rajshahi, 6 in Barishal, 6 in Rangpur, 2 in Khulna and 1 in Mymensingh division. No arson attacks were reported in the Sylhet division during this period. A total of 94 buses, 3 microbuses, 2 private cars, 8 motorcycles, 13 trucks, 8 covered vans, 1 ambulance, 2 pickup trucks, 2 CNG-run autorickshaws, 1 human hauler, 1 Laguna, 1 fire service water truck, 1 police van, 5 BNP offices, 1 Awami League office, 1 police box, 1 councilor office, 2 electricity offices, 1 bus counter, and 2 showrooms were burnt during this time, according to fire service. Read: Two passenger buses set on fire in Dhaka on eve of fresh 48-hr blockade According to the statistics, the highest, 29, arson attacks happened on October 28. Analyzing the incidents, the fire service found that there were more arson attacks during the night (6 pm to 6 am) compared to daytime. Between October 28 and November 13, 61 fire incidents occurred during the day and 93 during the night.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday said the next national election is drawing nearer and the Election Commission is likely to announce the polls schedule in a day or two. “Since we’ve been able to establish the voting rights of the people, they will cast their votes freely,” she said in a confident voice. The premier was speaking at a function marking the inauguration of 10,041 infrastructures (Involving the total cost of nearly Tk 100,000 crore) throughout the country under 157 projects of 24 ministries and divisions through a virtual platform from her official residence Ganabhaban. The beneficiaries were connected to the event virtually from a total of 101 places, including 64 DC offices throughout the country. The total estimated cost of the projects is Tk 97,471 crore. Noting that Bangladesh has gained the status of a developing country, she said the continuation of the government is essential to sustain this momentum. Without mentioning BNP she took a swipe at the opposition party saying it doesn't want to join the upcoming 12th parliamentary elections, fearing its performance could be as bad as in the 2008 polls. In the 2008 election, Awami League gained a landslide victory with 233 seats out of 300 constituencies, while BNP won only 30 seats. “Those who secured only 30 seats will have no desire to run the election. They are attempting to invite sufferings for the people of Bangladesh creating an abnormal situation by foiling the election,” she said, not mentioning the name of BNP. In 2008 vote BNP secured 29 seats and later added another in a bye-election. Read: Bangladesh will surely overcome arson violence: PM Hasina She said AL also won the 2014 election overcoming arson violence and attempts to foil the vote. We’ve come (to power) being elected by the people time and again. Awami League never formed the government by any other means but the democratic way. All the electoral reforms – from enactment of a law over constitution of election commission to introduction of transparent ballot boxes— were done following Awami League’s proposals only to ensure the people’s voting rights. PM Hasina said her government started the development of Bangladesh from the grassroots level so that the people can enjoy urban facilities even staying in villages. Read: PM Hasina opens Southeast Asia’s largest urea fertiliser factory in Narsingdi The PM said the blockade programme and arson violence has been launched when the people are living in peace and the country witnessing its rapid progress. The normal life of the people and the academic activities of the students particularly those who are sitting for the annual examinations are hampered due to the arson violence, she said. Hasina said her government has increased the literacy rate to 76.6 percent now from only 45 percent during the BNP government of 2001-6. She wished that good sense would prevail upon them and they would stop this destruction and arson violence. The prime minister, however, asked the countrymen to resist this arson violence for the sake of protecting their own lives and assets. Read: Produce leprosy drugs locally: PM Hasina to pharmaceutical companies Among the infrastructures, the prime minister unveiled foundation stones of or opened 4,644 infrastructures under different projects as well as distributed 5,397 houses, constructed under Ashrayan-2 project at 132 upazilas in 46 districts, among landless and homeless families across the country. At the event, the PM declared more 11 districts and 60 upazilas as landless and homeless-free units following the distribution of the Ashrayan houses on Tuesday. A total of 32 districts and 394 upazilas have so far become landless and homeless family-free ones. The 4,644 infrastructures include 2023 Government Primary School Bhabans, 1800 Madrasha Bhaban, 299 Academic Bhaban and 40 Administrative Bhaban under Technical and Madrasha Education Division, 952 Academic cum Research Bhaban under Secondary and Higher Education Division, 12 student dormitory Bhaban, 222 disaster management centres, 128 chief judicial magistrate Bhaban, sub-register office Bhaban in 46 districts, 110 flood shelter centres, 25 Mujib Killa, 20 bridges, 22 complexes under the Social Welfare Ministry, 34 Bhaban under the Health Services Division, 7 student mess, 16 dormitories, 23 ICU, 79 community clinic, 46 Medical College Bhaban, 24 Nursing College Bhaban, tennis infrastructural development in 25 districts, 13 Kriya (Sports) School Bhaban, 26 BKSP Training Centre, 20 child daycare centres, 38 SPM with double pipelines, constructions of 10 gas pipelines, installment of 26 refining units , 24 mine digging, 140 gas plant purchase and installment, construction of 33 pipelines, 18 infrastructures of Sheikh Hasina Textile Engineering College, 11 Textile Institute infrastructures, 40 technical training centre and 14 Sheikh Kamal IT Training and Incubation Centre Bhaban. PM’s Principal Secretary M Tofazzel Hossain Miah conducted the event.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Sunday (November 12, 2023) urged the people to boldly face any situation saying that Bangladesh will surely overcome manmade disasters like arson violence. “We will take Bangladesh forward, surely overcoming manmade disasters like arson violence as we face the natural disasters. I would like to tell the countrymen to boldly face any situation,” she said. The premier was addressing the inaugural ceremony of the Ghorashal-Palash Urea Fertilizer Factory (GPUFF) – the largest of its kind in Southeast Asia - in Narsingdi. She said Bangladesh will move forward commodity price hike has emerged due to external factors like wars, economic sanctions and global inflation. She once again called upon the people not leave even a single inch of land uncultivated to ensure Bangladesh would never need to beg anyone for food. Read: PM places 5 recommendations to end Israeli carnage in Palestine She said Bangladesh today is a developing country, which would move forward further and be Smart Bangladesh, having a smart population, smart government, smart economy and smart society. She said Bangladesh faced repeated obstacles in its development journey, but none could stop its progress. “None would be able to stop this progress of Bangladesh anymore,” she said. She said the Awami League refused a foreign proposal to sell gas abroad before the 2001 generation election. That caused her party’s defeat in the election. But BNP leader Khaleda Zia agreed to it and won the vote, she said. The PM said had she yielded to the pressure that day Bangladesh would not have seem such an excellent fertilizer factory today. Read: Vote for AL to help finish incomplete dev projects: PM Hasina A number of farmers were killed during the BNP regime as they had agitated demanding fertilizers in different places including Gaibandha and Tangail, she added. The PM said no shortage of urea fertilizer was seen anywhere in the country in the last 15 years thanks to its uninterrupted distribution and import of this fertilizer. “Now there is an enough stock of fertilizers in the country,” she said.
The nationwide blockades for the past few days have dealt a severe blow to the business landscape of Bangladesh, leaving wholesale markets desolate and causing a week-long economic slump. The impact has spread over areas like New Market, Chandni Market, Eastern Plaza, Elephant Road, Farmgate, Gulistan Market, Shantinagar, Kakrail, Mouchak Market, Rampura-Badda, Mirpur, Dhanmondi, Gulshan-Banani, and Uttara in Dhaka. Nawabpur, Chawkbazar, Islampur, Babubazar, Shankharibazar, Moulvibazar, and Bangabazar, also witnessed a decline in trade activities. Economy buffeted by political unrest amid declining forex reserves: Analysts Dewan Aminul Islam, President of Dhaka New Market Traders’ Association, said that sales were very low during the blockade. “There are no buyers. Small traders are suffering more. If the blockade continues, then we will be the most affected,” he said. Employees at Olympia Bakeryshop in the Baitul Mukarram area similarly report a decline in sales. They have resorted to a shift toward alternative sales strategies within familiar networks. Sabuj, a tea vendor at Paltan intersection, said his shop faced a significant contraction in sales over the past week. “I make TK10-12,000 per day. Now it’s Tk2-3,000," he said. Uncertainty, tension grip students, parents amid raging political crisis Farooq Hasan, President of BGMEA, told UNB “The sector was already suffering from a shortage of buyers in the international market. Now, due to internal political instability, we have to face a more difficult situation. As a result, not only the export sector will be affected, but the entire economy of the country will be affected. It will also affect the reserves.” Mohammad Hatem, Executive President of BKMEA, expressed concern over escalating losses among traders. “The internal transportation of goods has been severely impeded. Industrial production witnessed a decline.Export sector is especially vulnerable to the ongoing blockade,” he said. The Exporters Association of Bangladesh (EAB) President, Abdus Salam Murshedi, told UNB that due to the blockade, businesses cannot collect the raw materials stuck at various ports due to the transportation crisis. Mahbubul Alam, president of Federation of Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI), called for a collective reconsideration of the ongoing strike blockade. With economic diversification, transformation, Bangladesh holds potential to achieve more: Swiss Ambassador Reto Renggli “Such programs, if prolonged, may lead to a standstill in the wheels of the economy,” he said. On October 29, a hartal was observed across the country called by BNP and other like-minded opposition parties. After the three-day blockade on October 31, the blockade continued on November 5 and 6, and after the two-day blockade, it continued on November 8 and 9 with a one-day break.