Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN) – The main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its allies enforce another dawn-to-dusk countrywide general strike on Monday, demanding that the government trace its leader M Ilias Ali and his driver, who have been missing since April 17 midnight.
“Our movement will gradually get tougher until Ilias [a former lawmaker and now BNP organizing secretary] and his driver are found,” party’s acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said at a press briefing after Sunday’s strike, generally known as hartal, ended.
Over 50 people, including BNP joint secretary general and former 
Rajshahi City Corporation mayor Mizanur Rahman Minu, were injured and some 200 pickets arrested during the hartal hours from across the country on Sunday, according to reports.
However, Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir claimed that at least 726 leaders and workers of BNP and its front and associate organizations were arrested during the hartal hours.
Besides, 666 opposition activists were injured across the country in police actions, he added.
Opposition activists could not take to the streets in Dhaka due to police obstruction. Whenever they tried to bring out processions, law enforcers chased them or baton-charged them.
Sporadic clashes took place across the country. Several incidents of fighting between police and the opposition were reported in Sylhet, home of Ilias Ali. At least 30 people were injured and more than 50 detained there.
According to reports, the hartal supporters could hardly go for picketing in any major city in the country because of strong security measures taken by the government.
Traffic movement was thin in the capital. Most shops, business houses and educational institutions remained closed. Long-distance bus and launch services were badly hampered by the hartal. But the government offices remained opened as usual.
The opposition-sponsored countrywide shutdown dealt a huge blow to the livelihoods of the poor, who depend on daily earnings to eke out a living for their families.
The prices of almost all the essential commodities have sharply increased in the city because of the hartal, multiplying the sufferings of low and fixed income-group people.
Besides, the office-goers had to face various hassles to reach their workplaces because of shortage of vehicles on the roads during the hartal period.
BBN/SSR/AD-23Apr12-12:58 pm (BST)