DHAKA: Police in Bangladesh’s capital fired tear gas and arrested dozens of protesters as the nation’s largest Islamic party enforced a daylong strike that has shut schools and businesses across the country.
The opposition Jamaat-e-Islami party called the strike to demand authorities halt trials of its top leaders on charges of crimes against humanity during the 1971 war against Pakistan in which the country got its independence.
Witnesses say several buses and three-wheel vehicles that tried to ignore Tuesday’s strike were either vandalized or torched in the capital, Dhaka.
TV footage showed protesters clashing with police firing tear gas. About 50 protesters were reportedly arrested in Dhaka, reported the Associated Press.
Jamaat-e-Islami’s top eight leaders are on trial for allegedly collaborating with the Pakistani army in committing atrocities during the war. The party denies the charges, saying they’re politically motivated.
Earlier on Monday, a teenage Jamaat activist was killed during clashes in which police fired live bullets to disperse crowds ahead of the nationwide strike, news agency AFP quoted officials as saying.
Local police chief Tariqul Islam told AFP that the cause of the activist’s death was unclear while a medical official said the 18-year-old died after being admitted to hospital with a gunshot wound to the head.
The Jamaat-e-Islami member died on Monday night in violence in the northern town of Chirirbandar, 300 kilometres from the capital Dhaka.
“We fired seven rounds of live bullets, rubber bullets and tear gas shells,” Islam, the local police chief, said.
Shihidul Islam, a nurse at Rangpur Medical College Hospital, said the activist died as he was brought to the clinic. “He has a bullet shot in his head,” he told AFP.
About 20 policemen were also injured in the clashes, the police chief said.