Press Trust of India
Dhaka, 26 October: The death toll in violence across Bangladesh, following dispute over electoral system, rose to six even as the country braced for a 60-hour opposition strike tomorrow, calling for a neutral caretaker government to oversee the next general elections.
The media reports said at least six people were killed and some 300 others injured when fierce clashes erupted across the country yesterday as main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) staged a massive protest in Dhaka demanding installation of a non-party interim government.
Police and witnesses said BNP’s crucial ally fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami activists joined the protests demanding release of their detained leaders who were convicted or awaiting judgement for crimes against humanity during the 1971 liberation war.
The maximum three deaths were reported from central Chandpur where the opposition today enforced a day-long strike protesting police actions while two opposition activists were killed in southeastern Cox Bazar and the rest of the casualty was reported from northwestern Nilphamari district.
Political crisis is mounting in Bangladesh as the ruling alliance and opposition parties have failed to reach a deal to form a caretaker government ahead of the elections slated for January.
BNP chief Khaleda Zia, addressing a rally a of over 100,000 supporters here yesterday, issued an ultimatum to her arch-rival Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to initiate talks on her demand. The former prime minister said if the demand was not accepted, the party would enforce a 60-hour nationwide strike from tomorrow.
Ms Zia said the government would turn “illegal” as of Friday, citing a legal provision that requires a neutral caretaker government to be set up three months before polls.
In 2010, the Hasina government announced there would be no caretaker administration at the next elections, arguing such a system enables the army to seize power.
The BNP has vowed to boycott polls without a caretaker government, arguing the system has delivered four successive free and fair polls since 1990 when democracy was restored after over a decade of military rule.