The dawn-to-dusk hartal (shutdown), enforced by BNP in the capital today (Sunday) in protest against ‘vote frauds’ in Saturday’s Dhaka city elections, ended peacefully with lukewarm public response.
There was no report of any violence during the shutdown programme that began at 6am and ended at 6pm.
BNP’s first shutdown in nearly five years did not evoke good response with BNP leaders and activists noticeably absent on the streets. Only a few leaders and activists of the party took position in front of their Nayapaltan central office.
The vehicular movement was a bit thinner than the usual since morning while huge law enforcers remained deployed at the important city points to fend off any untoward situation.
Bangladesh Road Transport Owners' Association operated their vehicles since morning rejecting BNP’s hartal.
Assistant Commissioner (Traffic-Darussalam) of West Division Jahidur Rahman said the intercity bus service from Dhaka’s Gabtoli remained undisrupted while passenger buses operated across the city as usual but the number of private vehicles was relatively low.
Meanwhile, the presence of students in the city’s educational institutions was somewhat low.
BNP’s Senior Joint Secretary General Ruhul Kabir Rizvi along with some party leaders and activists took position in front of their Nayapaltan party office since early morning. BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir also went to the party headquarters around 9:30am.
They brought out a procession early in the morning in support of the hartal in front of their office and burnt a symbolic Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) there.
Later, they took position at the front gate of the party headquarters and shouted slogans in support of the hartal. BNP’s Dhaka south mayoral candidate Ishraque Hossain came to Nayapaltan around 11am and joined the protest.
Meanwhile, huge law enforcers were deployed near BNP’s Nayapaltan office and its adjoining areas to avoid any possible unwanted incident. Around 11:45am, police asked the protesting BNP leaders and activists to leave within half an hour. The protesters left before noon.
After observing the day-long hartal, Mirza Fakhrul announced that they will stage demonstrations in the city on Tuesday demanding cancellation of the results of city polls.
He claimed that people made their party’s hartal programme a success with their spontaneous support.
The BNP leader also thanked people to support their hartal programme announced within a short time.
Fakhrul claimed that their party leaders and activists observed the hartal programme at different wards of the city while police arrested at least four of them.
Mirza Fakhrul called for the shutdown on Saturday evening, reviving the ‘hartal culture’ in Bangladeshi politics.
Awami League mayoral candidates Atiqul Islam and Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh won the mayoral race of Dhaka North City Corporation and Dhaka South City Corporation in Saturday’s election.