At a time when the country’s people are in a festive mood over the upcoming Jatiya Sangsad election slated for January 7, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its ally Jamaat-e-Islami are carrying out one after another arson attacks on public transports and offices in a bid to foil the upcoming polls.
The leaders and workers of BNP-Jamaat have become so desperate to foil the next poll at any cost that they have resorted to a reign of terror killing people and torching vehicles in different places of the country.
Attack on Dhaka DC office
In the latest move, a group of alleged BNP-Jamaat miscreants hurled three cocktails at the office of Dhaka Division Commissioner and Returning Officer at Segunbagicha in the capital on Thursday afternoon (November 30).
Hearing the sound around 3:10pm, police immediately rushed to the spot to investigate the matter, said Sub Inspector of Ramna Thana Shafiqul Islam.
According to locals, miscreants threw cocktails from the roof of an adjacent building which exploded on the vehicle shed of the DC office. Members of BGB also visited the spot.
376 arson attacks in 3 weeks
Meanwhile, a total of 310 acts of vandalism and 376 arson attacks were recorded across the country during the blockade and hartal from October 29 to November 22 enforced by BNP-Jamaat and like-minded parties, according to an estimate by English national daily.
After ransacking the residence of the chief justice, vandalizing the police hospital at Rajarbagh, and killing a policeman in front of BNP’s Naya Paltan central office on October 28, a total of 290 vehicles were set on fire between October 29 and November 22, according to police headquarters. Besides, Awami League offices were vandalized in Jhalokathi and Pirojpur while two offices were set on fire in Sirajganj on November 6 and 15.
Six people including a policeman were killed while on duty in various incidents during this period.
A total of 24 sabotage incidents took place on the railways from October 31 to November 22. Of these, 3 trains were set on fire at Kamalapur, Tangail, and Jamalpur railway stations.
BNP-Jamaat Government (2001-06)
Attacks on Awami League: Right after winning the general elections in 2001, BNP-Jamaat activists unleashed a reign of terror that continued throughout the next five years. During this period, BNP-Jamaat goons killed 26,000 workers and leaders of the Awami League, including former Finance Minister Shah AMS Kibria and former MP Ahsanullah Master. As many as 18 attempts were made on Awami League President and current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s life during this time.
In one single act of deadly political violence, on August 21, 2004, BNP-Jamaat’s earmarked future leader and convicted money launderer Tarique Rahman orchestrated a grenade attack on an Awami League rally to cleanse the party of all its leaders including Party President and current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Twenty-four leaders and activists of the Awami League and its associate bodies were killed and over 300 others suffered splinter injuries in the August 21 attack. Among the dead was Ivy Rahman, then Mohila AL president and also the wife of late President Zillur Rahman.
Jamaat-Shibir Violence Opposing War Crimes Trials
A total of 15 police members were killed in 2013 by Jamaat-Shibir backed by BNP during their violence to stop and oppose the war crimes trials, which is the domestic tribunal set up by Bangladesh to try war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity committed during the 1971 Liberation War. In 419 major incidents of political violence throughout the year 2013, spearheaded by Jamaat-Shibir, 492 people were killed while 2,200 others were injured in the incidents.
Violence Centered on 10th General Election
In 2014: The BNP-Jamaat alliance let loose a reign of terror to resist the January 5 election of 2014. They vandalized and torched hundreds of vehicles. As many as 200 people, including 20 law enforcers, were killed by their petrol bombs, handmade bombs, and other sorts of violence. On the day of the election, they killed 26 people, including a presiding officer, and torched 582 schools across the country, that were serving as voting centers. Braving all obstacles, people exercised their voting rights and helped continue the democratic process.
In 2015: From January 4, 2015 onward, BNP-Jamaat unleashed another reign of terror marking one year of the January 5 election, killing 231 people (mostly through arson and petrol bomb attacks) and injuring (mostly through burning) 1,180 others. Arson attacks were conducted to burn 2,903 cars, 18 rail carriages, and 8 passenger water vessels. Through targeted attacks, 70 government offices were vandalized or destroyed and 6 land offices were burnt.
Economic Costs: In the violence centering the 10th parliamentary elections cost the Bangladesh economy at least Tk 50,000 crore (more than $6 billion) in the last six months of 2013. According to the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry, one of the country’s premier trade bodies, each day of hartal and blockade cost the nation Tk 1,600 crore ($192.3 million), or 0.2% of the GDP. This means that the more than 8 months’ worth of strikes and blockades by BNP-Jamaat in 2013, 2014, and 2015 cost the nation more than $1.53 billion, which does not even include the actual costs of the properties damaged by BNP-Jamaat violence during these times.
Minority Targeted: According to police reports submitted to the High Court Division of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh, around 160 incidents of attacks and atrocities on Hindus took place in 21 districts after the January 5 parliamentary polls by BNP-Jamaat. Property worth around TK 4 million was damaged in 70 of those attacks and local BNP-Jamaat activists were responsible for most of the occurrences. The atrocities include injuring Hindu people, damaging their houses, temples, and business establishments, setting those on fire, and looting valuables.