In a bid to break the standoff that has sparked violence across the country, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina spoke by telephone to opposition leader Khaleda Zia on Saturday, inviting her to dinner on Monday to discuss the issue of poll-time government and urging her to withdraw the 60-hour hartal called by the opposition.
However, Ms. Zia rejected the dinner invitation saying she needed to consult with the leaders in her opposition coalition. Also, an aide to Ms. Zia said the nationwide hartal would commence on Sunday morning as announced.
It was after a gap of several years that the 40-minute phone conversation between the two most powerful women in Bangladesh politicstook place. Ms. Hasina was upset and concerned over the rejection of her invitation, said an aide to the Premier. But she was still hopeful, he added.
Meanwhile, crude bombs exploded in several parts of Dhaka. Ekattor TV, a popular independent television station, came under bomb attack minutes after the Prime Minister and the opposition leader spoke. One journalist and a cameraperson were seriously injured.
Bombs also exploded near the houses of Supreme Court judge S.K. Sinha, two Ministers and several ruling party leaders. The office of a deputy police commissioner and a commercial complex in Dhaka were also targeted. No one was hurt in the explosions.
A man suspected to be an activist of Islami Chhatra Shibir, the student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami, was arrested with petrol bombs near a Minister’s house. Several vehicles were torched in the capital.
Mr. Justice Sinha was one of the judges at the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court who recently confirmed the death sentence handed to Jamaat-e-Islami’s assistant secretary general Abdul Quader Molla by a war crimes tribunal.