At least three persons were killed on Tuesday in Bangladesh as the main opposition Bangladesh National Party (BNP) enforced a 48-hour nationwide blockade demanding postponement of general elections on January 5 amid a deadlock over the interim government.
Activists of BNP and its fundamentalist ally Jamaat-e- Islami uprooted railway tracks in major routes, torched buses, cars and trains, and exploded crude bombs after the government rejected their calls to postpone the elections, witnesses and media reports said.
An unidentified man was killed in clashes between opposition activists and the police in north-western Sirajganj.
Acts of sabotages were reported from different other districts.
The other two deaths were reported on Monday night soon after the announcement of the election schedule.
Police said a youth died instantly after a crude bomb hit him on the head in central Comilla and a rickshaw-puller was killed in the capital in a separate incident.
Railway links between Dhaka and south-eastern port city of Chittagong and north-eastern Sylhet were cut off as the opposition activists uprooted of train tracks at central Brahmanbaria while they set on fire several compartments of a stationed train at north-western Iswardy.
Buses were stopped as the opposition coalition on Monday night announced the blockade for highways, railways and waterways to protest against the “election of farce”, prompting authorities to call out paramilitary BGB troops to guard the capital and other major cities.
Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Rakibuddin on Monday announced the election schedule, pitting ruling Awami League against the BNP, which has been demanding that the polls plan be shelved until the settlement of the dispute over the modality of the interim government.
Rakibuddin said the statutory independent constitutional body so far awaited the major parties to reach an understanding over their dispute “but now we don’t have time to delay further” as the commission was obligated to hold the polls within January 24 under a constitutional deadline.
According to the schedule December 2 is the last date for submission of nomination papers, meaning the opposition must decide its stance on the polls in the next one week.