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.
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.
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.
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