After over a week of relative calmness there had been a sudden escalation of arson attacks on vehicles on Saturday, the 54th day of the countrywide indefinite blockade enforced by the BNP-led 20-party alliance.
At least 10 vehicles were torched and 19 others vandalised in different parts of the capital, Narayanganj and Laxmipur in the evening, also the eve of the 20-party’s fresh 72-hour nationwide hartal beginning at 6am on Sunday.
In the capital, miscreants set fire to eight vehicles and damaged three others in separate incidents in Malibangh, Jatrabari and Banani areas.
Four vehicles, including two of private television channel Desh TV, were set alight and three others vandalised at Malibagh in the evening.
Witnesses said some youths, carrying backpacks, in three groups brought out a sudden procession from different lanes around Mouchak Market at about 6:40pm.
They exploded some 15 crude bombs in front of the Desh TV office.
Later, they set fire to four vehicles, including two of the private television channel, throwing petrol bombs on them and vandalised three others.
Although locals doused the fire, it damaged a vehicle badly. Later, a fire-fighting unit from Khilgaon rushed to the spot.
Badsha Miah, an eyewitness, said, “At least 40 people, including children, from the two sides of the road abruptly attacked the vehicles and exploded the crude bombs.”
Driver of the car (Dhaka Metro 03-2289) that was damaged badly, Shamsul Haque, told UNB that he parked the vehicle by a span of the under-construction Mouchak-Moghbazar Flyover in front of the Desh TV office after dropping his employer in front of the Mouchak Market. “Suddenly, some youths threw crude bombs from buckets they were carrying. Then they threw a petrol bomb to my car.”
Although policemen remained stationed under the footbridge in front of the Mouchak Market, a few yards off the spot, they did not appear on the scene immediately, said witnesses.
They said the law enforcers appeared on the scene along with the activists of the ruling party when the miscreants had disappeared.
Police recovered a bottle of petrol from the spot.
The alleged blockaders torched two pickups and a bus at Jatrabari around 6:30pm while a bus of ‘Bihanga Paribahan’ was set ablaze at Banani around 7:20pm.
In Narayanganj, a bus of ‘Ananda Paribahan’ was set alight at Galachipa intersection of the city around 5:45pm.
Police said the miscreants set fire the Dhaka-bound bus from Narayanganj after pouring petrol on it. Five passengers suffered minor injuries in the incident.
In Laxmipur, miscreants torched a pickup and vandalised at least 16 vehicles in different areas of Sadar upazila.
Police said the pickup was set alight at Dalal Bazar around 8:30pm. Eight CNG-run auto-rickshaws were also vandalised at that time.
Besides, two three-wheelers were damaged in Islam Market area while three others in Bhabaniganj and two auto-rickshaws and a truck were vandalised at Miah Rastar Matha in the upazila.