A three-day strike across Bangladesh came to an end on Monday of this week, as police and strikers fought pitched battles across the country. The strike was called by the main opposition party, the Awami League, after a grenade attack on a party rally in the Sylhet region. The attack on 27 January killed five people — including the former finance minister Shah AMS Kirbria.
The strike action, which was intended to topple the government, shut down most transport across the country. News reports said schools, colleges and businesses were closed in every major city.
The ruling Bangladeshi Nationalist Party (BNP) responded by using police and paramilitary troops to try to break up the strike. In one area BNP leaders went on the rampage on motorbikes, allegedly injuring over 20 activists and opposition leaders.
Strikers defended themselves, arming pickets with metal bars to fight off police attacks last weekend. One police officer died in a clash with strikers last Sunday.
But the strikers bore the brunt of the attack, with hundreds injured around the country. Journalists and opposition politicians have also come under attack.
An Awami League leader asked, “Is it a duty of the government to suppress peaceful protests and deny the right to hold meetings and procession?”