Bangladesh deploys paramilitary troops amid escalated political tensions

Dhaka, Oct 31 (PTI): The Bangladesh government overnight deployed paramilitary troops and asked police departments and other law enforcement agencies to intensify security vigil, as a three-day nationwide transport blockade called by the main opposition BNP began on Tuesday, escalating tensions after two days of deadly violence this week.

Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) said they deployed the force across the country while several hundred paramilitary personnel would be on patrol in the national capital Dhaka.

“A required number of BGB platoons are dispatched countrywide to maintain law and order and guard major highways,” a spokesman of the paramilitary force told reporters while elite anti-crime Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) said they too would be on high alert on major cities.

Home minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal on late Monday convened a meeting of the “core committee on law and order affairs” and reviewed the security situation with senior officials of police and other law enforcement and security agencies.

“The heads of the law enforcement and intelligence agencies have been asked to remain extra vigilant against any act of sabotage and violence during the 72 hours of opposition blockade,” an official familiar with the meeting said.

But unidentified miscreants on Monday night set on fire two static empty buses in south-eastern port city of Chattogram and Gazipur town on the outskirts of the capital creating panic in the neighbourhoods.

No casualties were reported in the arsons but police and fire service officials said both the buses were completely gutted.

The opposition blockade starts a day after two garments workers died in clashes with police as they went on rampage demanding higher wages in Gazipur industrial district, visibly a development having links with politics.

But according to officials concerned in home and labour ministries, directives were issued to settle the workers unrest through tripartite negotiations to prevent any situation that could fuel political turmoil.

The factory workers are staging protests for the past one week for higher wages as an earlier government-formed Wage Board was yet to reach an agreement with factory owners and labour representatives.

At least four people, including an on-duty policeman and three activists of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s ruling Awami League and former premier Khaleda Zia’s BNP were killed on Saturday and Sunday in Dhaka and elsewhere.

BNP on Saturday called a grand protest meeting rallying activists from different parts of the county and Awami League simultaneously staged a “peace rally” in the capital amid brewing tensions over the upcoming general elections expected to be held in early January.

Despite security vigils BNP workers allegedly hacked to death a police constable, set ablaze several ambulances at Rajarbagh Central Police Hospital (CPH), a police booth and several vehicles including buses elsewhere in the city on the day, when over 200 people were wounded.

The BNP rally ended abruptly as police fired tear gas canisters to tame “unruly elements” visibly prompting the opposition to call a nationwide stoppage on Sunday, when police arrested its de facto leader and secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir arrest for “instigating” violence.

During the day-long general strike two activists of the ruling and main opposition parties were killed – one in Dhaka and another in northeastern Lalmonirhat – amid widespread violence. PTI AR RUP RUP

(This story is published as part of the auto-generated syndicate wire feed. No editing has been done in the headline or the body by ABP Live.)

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