DHAKA: Police clashed with demonstrators and arrested dozens in Bangladesh as a hard-line group enforced a paralysing general strike on Monday protesting a new policy giving women equal inheritance rights.
The protesters, mostly students of Islamic schools, smashed vehicles and set fire to a fuel station and attacked a convoy of devotees on their way to an Islamic shrine in southeastern Bangladesh, according to police, news reports and witnesses. Police fired tear gas and used batons to disperse protesters in various parts of the country.
Dozens were injured in clashes across the country during the strike, media reports citing police said.
Nearly 150 people were arrested during the one-day strike that saw schools and businesses shut in the nation's main cities and towns, the Daily Star newspaper and ETV station reporting, citing police and witnesses.
General strikes — calls for businesses to close shop to protest a cause — are fairly common in the South Asian country, and those who do not comply can face intimidation by hard-line activists.
Monday's strike was organised by the Islamic Law Implementation Committee, a grouping of several religious groups and political parties. Its head, Fazlul Huq Amini, told a news conference later on Monday that about 100 activists had been arrested in the capital, Dhaka.
While the strike was called to broadly seek the adoption of Islamic law in the Muslim-majority nation of 150 million people, its specific agenda was to oppose the government's new policy on women's inheritance rights.
Under the government's new rules, every child inherits the same amount.
Amini accuses the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of violating the Quran by introducing the new inheritance policy.
Hasina, however, insists the new rules are in line with Islam and says the hard-line group is deliberately manipulating people's religious feelings to destabilise the country.—AP