On the first day of the fourth round of the blockade enforced by the BNP and the like-minded parties, at least five incidents of torching buses were reported across the country.
Three buses were set ablaze in the capital city of Dhaka on Sunday.
A bus was set on fire in the early morning in Sutrapur, while another incident took place in Mirpur on Sunday afternoon. The third bus was set on fire in the Tejgaon area on Sunday night.
In solidarity with the blockade, BNP leaders and activists conducted marches in different parts of the country, including Dhaka.
Various parties and alliances, aligning with the BNP, have conducted simultaneous rallies. BNP leaders and activists have blocked roads in Sylhet and Bagura.
Although the number of public transports operating during yesterday's blockade in Dhaka was reduced, private vehicles were less.
The long-distance bus service from Dhaka to various destinations across the country was nearly halted. Train services continued without disruption, while fewer launches operated than usual.
Like the previous three rounds of the blockade, there were patrols by the police, RAB, and BGB on various roads across the country. Additionally, the ruling Awami League organised marches and gatherings in different areas to prevent disruptions under the guise of the blockade.
Party leaders and workers were seen taking positions in various parts of the capital. Some sat and chatted on the sidewalk, without raising slogans. A stage was set up in front of the party's central office on Bangabandhu Avenue where artists performed songs.
During the blockade, a passenger bus was set on fire in the Mirpur-10 roundabout area of the capital city yesterday around 1:15 pm.
The incident occurred while the Awami League's 'peace rally' was ongoing near the spot.
Notably, a traffic police office is located within 100 yards of the road where the bus was set ablaze, and policemen were present there. Additionally, there was heightened police security due to a concurrent garment workers' protest in the area. The miscreants set fire to the bus and left the scene.
During the 'Peace Rally', Dhaka Metropolitan North Awami League office secretary William Praloy Samaddar was delivering a speech when the bus was set on fire. He recounted to Prothom Alo that he noticed the bus on fire while speaking.
Approximately 40 passengers were onboard the Prajapati Paribahan bus when it was set ablaze.
Mohammad Mohsin, the officer-in-charge of Mirpur Model Police Station, confirmed that miscreants set fire to the bus.
He mentioned that following the fire, the passengers promptly disembarked from the bus. As of now, the arsonist remains unidentified.
Meanwhile, the BNP has alleged the involvement of the ruling party’s members in setting the bus on fire.
Ruhul Kabir Rizvi, the party's senior joint secretary general, reiterated this claim multiple times during the virtual briefings.
Meanwhile, another bus was set on fire in Dhaka's Sutrapur early yesterday morning. Additionally, miscreants ignited a bus in Tejgaon around 8:30 pm yesterday. This brings the total count of vehicles set ablaze in Dhaka to 74 between 28 October and 12 November.
Despite the police's various efforts, incidents of sequential bus burnings persist in Dhaka.
Harun Or Rashid, the additional commissioner (DB) of Dhaka Metropolitan Police, stated that individuals responsible for setting the buses on fire are being apprehended. Many of them have already been identified and named.
Two buses torched in Narayanganj
Two buses were set on fire in Siddhirganj, Narayanganj—one in the early morning and the other in the evening yesterday. The evening incident occurred around 7:30 pm, with no reported casualties in either fire.
Golam Mostafa, officer-in-charge (OC) of Siddhirganj police station in Narayanganj, informed Prothom Alo that a minibus parked on the roadside in Dhakeshwari area No 2 caught fire around 7:15 in the evening. The location where the bus was set ablaze had hundreds of people present. Investigations are ongoing to determine whether it was an accident or an act of sabotage.
Prior to this, a Labbaik Paribahan bus was vandalized in Sanarpara, Siddhirganj, at around 1:30 pm on Saturday.
Across the country, including Dhaka, a total of 95 vehicles were set on fire from 28 October to 12 November. This information was provided by Prothom Alo correspondents of the respective districts, as well as police and fire service sources.
Passengers at the Gabtali bus terminal had been waiting for hours since Sunday morning. Even if there are buses at the terminal, transportation workers couldn't assure whether they would depart or not. Workers at various transport company counters mentioned that the buses are not operating due to insufficient passengers.
Outside Dhaka, in support of the blockade, BNP leaders and workers blocked roads in Shajahanpur upazila of Bogura and the South Surma area of Sylhet on Sunday. Additionally, two cocktail explosions occurred in the Natore railway station area before the blockade began last Saturday night.
Instructions to take photos of passengers
The Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) has issued 10 instructions to prevent arson during the blockade programme. These guidelines for transport owners and workers include specific measures such as allowing passengers only at designated stops, taking photos of passengers and buses at various stoppages, closing the rear door if the bus has two, avoiding separate parking at night, arranging separate security for buses in open areas, prohibiting transport workers from sleeping inside buses at night, and affixing awareness stickers on the bus.
DMP commissioner Habibur Rahman told Prothom Alo over the phone last night that the police are actively engaged in preventing violence. Rigorous actions are being taken against identified vandals.
Additionally, detailed instructions have been provided to transport owners and workers to manage arson-related violence effectively.