Hartal disrupts Dhaka-Ctg train service; hits normal life

The first half of the daylong hartal, enforced by the BNP-led 18-party alliance, passed off amid reports of stray incidents of violence, including disruption of train services on Dhaka-Chittagong route, on Tuesday.

Train communications between Dhaka and Chittagong remained suspended as a Chittagong-bound inter-city train derailed near Padua Bazar level-crossing in Sadar Dakkhin upazila, leaving some 20 people injured early Tuesday, reports UNB Comilla correspondent.

The injured were admitted to Comilla Medical College Hospital. The engine and six bogies of the train, ‘Turna Nishita’, coming from Dhaka went off the tracks around 4:45am, said loco master Tofazzel Haque.

The Police Super of Comilla, Mahbubur Rahman, said the accident took place as hartal supporters removed fishplates in the area ahead of today’s shutdown. Mohammad Hamidul Haque, assistant engineer of local Railway, said two relief trains from Akhaura and Laksam arrived at the spot and began the salvage operation.

The train services on the country’s main rail route is unlikely to be restored before 5:30pm today, said a senior Railway official. Meanwhile, authorities cancelled the schedules of five trains on the route following the incident, according to Chittagong Railway (eastern zone).

In capital Dhaka, educational institutions remained closed, but government and non-government offices were open, though the attendance was thin.

Rickshaws and auto-rickshaws were dominating the city streets as the presence of motorised vehicles was much lesser than usual days. Sixteen crude bombs were exploded at different parts of the city.

Huge law enforcers are guarding the city streets, including BNP’s Nayapaltan office, to avoid any untoward incident. A small number of pickets were seen picketing in support of the hartal on the city streets.

Witnesses said hartal supporters set a human-hauler afire at Koltapara in old part of the city at about 8:20am. BNP, JCD and Jubo Dal activists brought out processions at different parts of the capital.

Stray incidents were also reported from elsewhere in the country. In Khulna, pickets torched three minibuses and a truck at Shiromoni in the city in the morning.

In Narayanganj, 15 people were injured as Jubo Dal workers clashed with police at Galachipa crossing around 7am. Pickets damaged six vehicles in Hajiganj and Kalirbazar areas in the morning.

Witnesses said a group of local Jubo Dal activists led by Narayanganj city unit Jubo Dal convener Maksudul Alam Khandaker brought out a procession from Greenlage Bank intersection of the city at about 7:00am.

When the procession reached Galachipa intersection of the city, police obstructed them. Activists of the Jubo Dal threw brick chips toward police that created a clash between them.

Later, police charged baton and fired several rounds of rubber bullets and teargas shells to disperse them, leaving 15 people injured, including six with bullets. Local activists of Jatiyatibadi Chhatra Dal vandalised four vehicles while they were bringing out a procession at Haziganj in the city at about 7:30am.

A group of activists of Seschhasebak Dal vandalised two vehicles and blocked road torching tyres in Kalirbazar area of the city in the morning. In Bogra, Islami Chhatra Shibir workers blocked roads in Jhopgari and Chandihara areas in the town by placing logs and burning tyres.

In Laxmipur, police detained 11 BNP and Jamaat-e-Islami activists from different areas of the district. Activists of Jamaat-Shibir brought out a procession in support of the hartal in South Temohani area of the town in the morning and blasted several crude bombs.

In Gazipur, hartal supporters poured petrol on Dhaka-Mymensingh road at Millgate and set fire to it in the morning. Pickets vandalised a pickup van in Bhogra bypass area.

Besides, police arrested 18 activists of Jamaat-Shibir, including Kaliakoir upazila unit general secretary of Jamaat Harun or Rashid. In Rangpur, pro-hartal activists torched two trucks in the city’s Mohiganj and Hajiganj areas in the morning.

The opposition alliance enforced the shutdown at 6am to press for their various demands, including the release of its leaders and activists arrested on March 11.

However, the recent tornado-hit Brahmanbaria remained out of the hartal’s ambit. Besides, all vehicles engaged in carrying out relief activities in the affected areas of the district have been exempted from the shutdown.