In Chittagong, incidents of violence including burning of cars are increasing during strike-blockade. Concerns are increasing in the public mind around the incidents of violence. In the hartal-blockade that started from October 29 till November 20, 19 vehicles were set on fire in the city and district of Chittagong. However, according to the fire service, the number of vehicles that caught fire is 13. At this time, 54 cases have been registered in the city and district against BNP-Jamaat leaders and activists in various violent incidents including car arson. 924 people have been arrested in these cases.
It is known that the BNP called for morning-evening hartal on October 29 to protest against not being able to hold a mass meeting in Dhaka on October 28. Jamaat-e-Islami and other like-minded parties expressed solidarity with this. After that, the first phase of the blockade was announced from October 31 to November 2, the second phase was from 6 am on November 5 to 6 am on November 7, the third phase was on November 8 and 9, the fourth phase was on November 12 and 13 and the fifth phase was on November 15 and 16. is Later, the party called a nationwide hartal from 6 am on Sunday (19 November) to 6 am on Tuesday (21 November).
In the first phase of blockade program from October 31 to November 2, 9 vehicles were set on fire in Chittagong. Among them, on October 30, the day before the blockade, a minibus carrying a groom was set on fire in front of K Square, GEC intersection of Khulshi police station in the city. On October 31 at 4 am, a bus standing in Tannery Battal area under Bayezid Bostami police station was set on fire. A passenger bus was set on fire at Salgola crossing area under EPZ police station at 6 am that day. Two stone-laden trucks and a motorcycle were set on fire in the Chowdhury Gotta area of Chandraghona Union of Rangunia Upazila in the early hours of November 1. That morning, a bus carrying garment workers under Karnaphuli police station was set on fire. A lorry loaded with rods was set on fire on the Dhaka-Chittagong highway at Sitakunda around noon.
In the second phase, from 6 am on November 5 to 6 am on November 7, three vehicles were set on fire. Among them, a bus was set on fire in the railway beat area of Oxygen intersection under Bayezid Bostami police station of the city on November 5 at 10:30 pm. In the early hours of November 6, a CNG auto-rickshaw standing on Chittagong-Hathazari road was set on fire in the depot area of Atura under Panchlaish police station of the city. In the early morning of the same day, a bus was set on fire in Chaturi Chaumuhani area of Anwara upazila in the district.
7 vehicles were set on fire during the strike called from 6 am on November 19 to 6 am on November 20. In the early hours of November 19, two covered vans were set on fire in Mirsarai. The previous day on November 18, a railway bridge was set on fire in Pahartali area of the city. On that day, a bus was set on fire in Bahaddarhat area under Chandgaon police station of the city. On the same day, a pickup van was set on fire in the area adjacent to the new bridge under Karnaphuli police station.
Two more buses burnt in Chittagong
On November 20, two buses of Shyamoli Paribahan and one of Hanif Paribahan were set on fire at Keochia area of Satkania upazila at 4 am.
Meanwhile, a car garage caught fire mysteriously at midnight on November 19. 20 CNG autorickshaws, 5 motorcycles and a rickshaw were burnt. Locals believe it could be a case of sabotage. Officer-in-Charge (OC) of Halishahar Police Station Qaiser Hamid said, ‘The matter of fire is being investigated. If there is an incident of sabotage, those involved will be brought under the law.
Chittagong Divisional Fire Service Assistant Director MA Malek said, ‘Since October 28, 20 vehicles have been set on fire in Chittagong Division. Among them, 10 buses, 5 trucks, 3 covered vans, a Laguna and a lorry were burnt. Out of 20 vehicles, 13 were torched in Chittagong, two in Feni, two in Khagrachari, one in Noakhali, one in Chandpur and one in Comilla.’
Chittagong Metropolitan BNP Office Md. Idris Ali told Bangla Tribune, ‘After October 28, the police has become very aggressive. Public events are not allowed. The activists are being attacked from house to house. If they don’t find the son, the father, if they don’t find the brother, the police will take another brother.’
He also said, ‘From October 28 to November 19, 54 cases have been filed against the leaders and activists of BNP and other organizations in the city and district. Thousands of activists have been accused in these cases. 924 people have been arrested. Out of this, 20 cases have been registered in the metropolis. 434 people have been arrested. 19 cases have been registered in police stations under Uttar district. 250 people have been arrested. Similarly, 15 cases have been registered in police stations under the jurisdiction of South District. 240 leaders and activists of BNP and other organizations have been arrested.
Sitakund police station OC Tofail Ahmed said, ‘Dhaka-Chittagong highway is the lifeline of the economy. Through this road goods are brought and taken from Chittagong port to all over the country. This time, we are keeping the Sitakunda part under extensive surveillance so that the transportation of goods is active on this road. Due to which we have been able to keep this road operational till now. In addition to clothes, the police are also working in white clothes to prevent vandalism.
Jahidul Kabir, OC of Chandgaon police station, said, ‘A case has been registered in the police station regarding the car arson incident at Bahaddarhat intersection. The operation to arrest those involved in this incident is continuing.
Ferdous Jahan, OC of Bayezid Bostami Police Station, said, ‘A case was filed at the police station in connection with setting fire to a car at Oxygen Junction under Bayezid Bostami Police Station. Some people were arrested in this incident. The operation to arrest the rest is continuing.
Belayet Hossain Belal, President of Chittagong Metropolitan Owners Group, said, “Several cars under our association have been burnt. The government said it would pay compensation. We are yet to complete the legal process and take the vehicles into our custody. After receiving these, we will apply to the government for compensation.’
He also said, ‘We are driving even during strike and blockade, we will continue. There is no fear among us.’