Dhaka, Oct 29 (EFE).- Police detained a senior leader of the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) as fresh violence flared up in Bangladesh in the run-up to the upcoming general election in January, in which at least one person died on Sunday.
Shairul Kabir Khan, a member of the BNP’s media wing, confirmed to EFE that the police detained the party’s secretary general, Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, from his Dhaka home in the morning.
Alamgir is the senior most opposition leader in the absence of ailing BNP chief Khaleda Zia and her son Tarique Rahman.
The government released Zia, the chairperson of the BNP, and suspended her jail sentences in two graft cases in March 2020, but has banned her from leaving the country.
Zia, the political rival of current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, has since refrained from any political activities and has been undergoing treatment in critical condition at a Dhaka hospital since Aug. 9.
Her elder son, Tarique Rahman, who has been in exile in London since 2008 and has been convicted in multiple cases, is serving as the acting party chairman in the absence of his mother.
The detention of Alamgir came a day after a policeman and a BNP supporter were killed in a clash between the two groups on Saturday.
The police foiled the big BNP rally following the clash, which also left several hundred people injured, including political activists, police, and journalists.
Violence resumed in the early hours of Sunday before BNP and some other opposition parties enforced a nationwide strike in protest of “heinous attack on the peaceful struggle for the restoration of democracy.”
Fire service duty officer Nima Khanam told EFE a sleeping transport worker was killed as his bus was set on fire around 3am in Demra, on the east of Dhaka.
Several dozen vehicles were torched, including a few on the compound of a police hospital, during Saturday’s clash.
Fire service spokesperson Shahjahan Sikder said that they recorded at least 22 incidents of fire during the clash.
“In some of these incidents, more than one vehicle was torched,” he said.
Morsalin Nomani, president of Dhaka Reporters Unity, said at least 30 journalists were injured while covering the clash.
The United States was among those to condemn the violence “against civilians” in Bangladesh.
“We call for calm and restraint on all sides. We will be reviewing all violent incidents for possible visa restrictions,” the US embassy in Dhaka said in a statement.
BNP on Friday accused the police of arresting at least 1,350 party leaders and activists during the week ahead of the rally.
Since its last major rally at the end of July, police have arrested 4,020 party leaders and activists, the BNP said.
During the rule of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government between 2009 and 2023, 1,539 BNP leaders and activists were killed and 1,204 went missing, it said.
The Awami League and BNP have ruled Bangladesh since 1991, except for a brief quasi-military rule in 2007–08. EFE