Relatives mourn the death of a man who was killed during clashes in Dohar, Bangladesh. (Reuters)
Dhaka, Jan. 7 (PTI): Eight top leaders of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), including its vice-president, were arrested today during raids.
This prompted the BNP to extend a 48-hour nationwide strike by one more day even as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina warned of stern action to contain political violence.
The leaders, including BNP vice-president Selima Rahman and chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia’s adviser Khandaker Mahbub Hossain, were arrested in a crackdown in Dhaka.
Rahman was arrested from her residence shortly after she announced the BNP’s decision to extend its shutdown until tomorrow to protest against the “farcical polls”.
Two former lawmakers, Fazlul Haque Milon and Nazimuddin Ahmed, were arrested during a raid on the office of BNP chief whip Zainul Abdin Farroque.
Four more Opposition activists were detained from various parts of Dhaka, but were released later. Khaleda has been confined to her home for the past two weeks.
The fresh arrests came a day after Hasina ordered army and law enforcement agencies to restore peace and order at any cost. “I am issuing directives to all members of the administration, military and law enforcement agencies to work sincerely to contain with iron hands any post-election terrorism and violence,” Hasina said.
She called on President Abdul Hamid and repeated her determination to protect the life and property of the common people.
“It was a courtesy call on after the elections when the Premier told the President that she was determined to do anything required to protect the life and property of the people,” presidential spokesman Ihsanul Karim Helal said.
Sunday’s general election was boycotted by the 18-party opposition alliance led by the BNP. Hasina's Awami League secured over a three-fourth majority in the polls marred by deadly clashes and a low turnout.
The BNP boycotted the polls after Hasina rejected the Opposition’s demand for a neutral caretaker regime to oversee the elections.
Political violence during strikes enforced by the Opposition since November have left over 160 people dead.
Hasina has asserted that her re-election was legitimate and appealed to Khaleda, to shun “terrorism” and sever ties with the fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami to strike a deal on the next elections.
At least five persons were killed in Bangladesh today in post-poll clashes, taking the death toll to 31. It is the bloodiest vote in the country’s history. Three persons were killed and 10 hurt in a clash between Awami League and Jatiya Party activists this morning.