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BNP, allies call 48-hr hartal July 6-7, followed by 2-day weekend, 12 parties' 30-hr hartal

Edit Date:7/5/2011 12:00:00 AM


The BNP-led opposition and 12 other parties have called for 78-hour countrywide hartals in two phases, which will virtually put the country on a six-day “vacation” from July 6.

In the first phase, BNP and its three allies will enforce a 48-hour shutdown on Wednesday and Thursday in protest against scrapping of the caretaker government system and “hurting” the religious sentiment of the people through the 15th amendment to the constitution. BNP and Jamaat-e-Islami announced the hartal through separate press conferences at their party offices in the capital yesterday.

The four-party alliance's hartal will be followed by Friday and Saturday -- two weekly holidays. An alliance of 12 parties led by Bangladesh Khelafat Majlish will then enforce a 30-hour shutdown from Sunday morning till 12:00noon of Monday.

The alliance, comprised of mostly Islamist parties, announced the hartal on June 30 in protest of dropping the phrase “absolute faith in Allah” from the country's charter. The House passed the 15th amendment that day bringing some significant changes including revoking of the provision for caretaker system. The amendment means that the next parliamentary election due in 2014 will be held under the Awami League-led government instead of a non-partisan caretaker government.

BNP and its allies -- Jamaat, Islami Oikya Jote and Bangladesh Jatiya Party -- are likely to extend support to the hartal called by the 12-party alliance. The series hartal comes at a time when the memory of the sufferings from the June 12-13 hartal called by the BNP-Jamaat alliance is still fresh in people's mind.

However, the out-of-the-blue “vacation” will cause immense misery to the people of all class. “People, especially those living in the divisional headquarters, will have to face untold sufferings due to the hartal,” Abul Hossain, a service holder, told this correspondent yesterday.

“No other country in the world has this form of protest. This type of protests [hartal] disrupts the public life very badly,” he added.

The working class will have to pay even dearly. “The job holders will get their salaries whether they go to the office or not. But what will happen to those who live from hand-to-mouth by driving or pulling rickshaw like us?” said a bus driver.

Several rickshaw pullers and auto-rickshaw drivers at Karwan Bazar echoed his view. A number of people said the political parties call for hartal without thinking about the plight of the common people and the harm they do to the economy.

The hartal will equally hamper academic activities, industrial production as well as export and import. Several garment workers in Farmgate said they will not get their salary on time due to the hartal. “This prolonged hartal will delay our salary. We will suffer, our family will suffer,” said Tania, a garment worker who usually gets her salary in the first week of the month.



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