The countrywide BNP-led "non-stop" countrywide blockade completed 31 days on Thursday, when three more victims of petrol bomb attacks died - two in Bogra and one in Dhaka.
So far at least 72 people have been killed
in violence stoked by the blockade during which cumulative business and
other losses totaled around Tk80,000 crores.
Now that the blockade has entered its second month running, people have started counting casualties afresh.
country is set to suffer as BNP Chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia on
Thursday reaffirmed her resolve to continue the deadly movement
(blockade and hartal) until the government accepts her demand for
dialogue and an early election.
In a press statement, she also urged
the world, especially countries in South Asia, to be watchful of the
ongoing standoff in Bangladesh that, Khaleda Zia warned, could also
affect other countries in the region unless settled soon.
trying her last resort as people have largely ignored the blockade and
hartal despite a series of bomb and arson attacks that claimed 72 lives
in violent blockade actions.
"I am ready to face any consequences but
will not bow to immoral pressure. The movement will continue," she said
dismissing hopes that the country would be back to normal and peace
Khaleda Zia's strongly-worded statement came as the
blockade entered its second month on Thursday. Over the month of
blockade more than 1,000 people have been injured and nearly 800 buses
and other vehicles torched or vandalized, according police and other
During the mayhem, blockaders attacked vehicles with petrol
bombs , sprayed some with petrol or gunpowder and set ablaze. At least
112 burn patients were rushed to the crammed Burn Unit of the Dhaka
Medical College and Hospital.
Several of them died in this unit where
doctors said they were fighting an uphill battle to save lives. But
many wonder what would happen to those who will survive and go back
home. Many would be maimed for life and become burden on families and
The full details of the cost of damages during the
blockade are still being compiled. But early estimate of losses
including business and burnt properties is nearly Tk80,000 crore. It
will rise further as the blockade, punctuated by many days of hartal,
looks set to continue.
Khaleda Zia called for the blockade on January
4 as part of her plan to force Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina - just one
year through her second five-year term - to step down and pave way for
an early election supervised by a non-party interim authority.
demand is superfluous in context of Bangladesh's political realities and
also contradictory with the constitution, the government said. So it
has been rejected but Khaleda Zia and her partners in a 20-party
alliance are still adamant to push it home.
Some analysts prefer to
call Khaleda Zia a "sadist" who masterminded the orgy of violence and
killings. Police have already charged her in three cases for ordering
the petrol bomb and arson attacks over the past one month.
the charges are false and politically motivated, aimed to "frame" BNP
so it cannot push for a fresh election. BNP says hundreds of its top and
med-rank leaders as well as thousands of field level activists have
been arrested or detained.
Police say no one has been rounded up
without specific charges against them. Lately, a controversial audio
tape of Khaleda Zia ordering her party men to take harsh actions added a
new dimension in the virulent politicking in which the entire country
has been held hostage.
Analysts say Bangladesh has now turned into a
valley of deaths and want a quick resolution of the situation. But it
looks a long shot as BNP and Awami League both say they would not move
an inch from their respective stances.
Police said they stepped up vigilance around the country in the wake of Khaleda's latest statement on Thursday.
government, however, is still reluctant to take a too-hard line like
what during Begum Khaleda Zia's premiership was called Operation Clean
Heart. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has rejected calls by some quarters
for declaring a state of emergency, telling the parliament on Wednesday
that "situation in the country still does not warrant an emergency."
is using all options to force the government into a dialogue with the
opposition parties. But analysts ask, a dialogue on what? The country is
sitting on a fireball and lives and properties are being burnt
randomly. These must stop first.
Media report on Thursday said 100
persons led by former Dhaka University Vice Chancellor Dr. Emajuddin
Ahmed have sent a letter to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon seeking
his interference to persuade Sheikh Hasina to agree to dialogue. But a
statement Dr. Emajuddin made to reporters after he met UN mission head
in Dhaka on Wednesday, did nowhere mention that Ban Ki Moon should ask
Khaleda Zia to call off the bloody blockade to restore peace and create
an atmosphere for talks.
Like the BNP-Jamaat, a section of
intelligentsia and civil society are illogically pushing for the
dialogue but they have not suggested Khaleda Zia she must stop the
vengeful killing mission immediately.
Khaleda Zia has failed to
attract much public support for her movement (blockade and hartal) -- as
has been evidenced from life almost being normal in Dhaka and elsewhere
despite "terror" tactics used by the BNP-Jamaat during the past month.
say the UN has nothing to do with Bangladesh's internal affairs - at
best they can suggest while the government reserves the right to accept
or reject. However, BNP has no option but to look abroad for support and
sympathies that Khaleda Zia has been trying for adamantly.
who think UN Peace Mission may come to Bangladesh in the wake of current
volatility are over-enthusiastic or adventurist. There is no instance
in the world where peace mission - in which Bangladesh is a major
contributor - had moved unless it was a civil war and armed conflict for
power. Bangladesh has not in any such situation.
Also, there is no evidence anywhere that "terrorism" had forced out an elected government in any democratic country.
lock horns for retaining or regaining power. But that doesn't warrant
commissioning of foreign mediators. In the past such mediation efforts
by the UN or US and others did fail.
Analysts without a political
bias strongly feel local politicians would be able to end the impasse
and urge so-called advisers not to poke Khaleda Zia to stoke up further