As many as 154 incidents of arson attacks have occurred across Bangladesh in the 17 days of strikes and blockades called by the BNP and its ally Jamaat-e-Islami as part of their anti-government movement. At least 135 of the incidents were of torching vehicles.
After analysing the data collected from across the entire country, the Fire Service and Civil Defence said that 25 of the 64 districts had experienced arson attacks where different structures and vehicles were set ablaze. No such incidents were reported in the remaining 39 districts.
The highest number of arson attacks took place in Dhaka and none were reported in the Sylhet Division, the fire service said in a statement on Tuesday. Gazipur reported the second highest cases of arson attacks, with most of them taking place at night.
In some places, Awami League and BNP offices, ward councillors’ offices, electricity offices and bus ticket counters were set ablaze. The arsonists set fire to buses, trucks, private cars, microbuses, covered vans, ambulances, autorickshaws, and even a fire service water tanker.
Most of the arson attacks occurred at night, particularly between 6 pm and 6 am, according to the fire service.
As many as 61 arson attacks occurred during daytime and 93 in nighttime from Oct 28 to Nov 13, it said.
The current violence across the country started on Oct 28, when the BNP held a major rally in Dhaka to oust the government and establish a neutral election-time caretaker government.
The event was marred by deadly clashes with the police, leading the opposition group to enforce a hartal on Oct 29.
They subsequently enforced a nationwide blockade from Oct 31 to Nov 2, with a one-day break. At the end of the shutdown, another 48-hour blockade was announced for Nov 5 and Nov 6, and then for Nov 8 and Nov 9. With a day of respite, the BNP again announced a 48-hour blockade on Nov 12 and Nov 13.
The party has currently called another 48-hour blockade, which will be enforced on Wednesday and Thursday. This will be the fifth time they called for a blockade.
At least 29 arson attacks took place on Oct 28, the day the BNP held its grand rally, the fire service said. On Oct 29, 19 such incidents occurred. A single case of arson was reported on Oct 30.
During the 72-hour blockade, 11 arson attacks were reported on Oct 31, another 14 on Nov 1 and seven on Nov 2. There wasn’t any blockade on Nov 3, and the fire service didn’t provide any report of arson on the day.
Although no blockade was called on Nov 4 either, at least six instances of arson attacks were reported. On Nov 5 and Nov 6, 13 more arson attacks were reported.
No blockade was announced for Nov 7, but two vehicles were burnt, regardless. There were nine such attacks on Nov 8 and seven on Nov 9.
There was no blockade over the weekend on Nov 10 and Nov 11, but at least nine arson attacks were reported.
Finally, on Nov 12 and Nov 13, the fourth round of the BNP’s blockade, the arsonists set fire to 14 properties and vehicles.
VEHICLES AND STRUCTURES SET ABLAZE
As many as 94 buses were set ablaze across the country in the 17 days of blockade since Oct 28.
Several other vehicles -- three microbuses, two private cars, 13 trucks, eight covered vans, eight motorcycles, an ambulance, two pick-up trucks, two auto rickshaws, two local three-wheelers, a water tanker of the fire service, and a police vehicle -- were also torched.
In addition, five BNP offices, one Awami League office, a police box, a councillor’s office, two power offices, a bus ticket counter and two sales centres were torched.
ARSON ATTACKS IN DIFFERENT DIVISIONS
Dhaka Division experienced the most arson attacks with 82 incidents in the capital and another 34 in the division.
As many as 14 cases of arson attacks took place in the Chattogram Division, nine in the Rajshahi Division, six in the Barishal Division, six in the Rangpur Division, two in the Khulna Division and one in Mymensingh Division.
District-wise statistics showed Gazipur suffered the highest number of arson attacks outside the capital. At least 15 attacks occurred in Gazipur, eight in Chattogram, six in Narayanganj, five in Bogura, four in Manikganj, four in Faridpur and four in Lalmonirhat, according to the Fire Service.
The arsonists beat fire service staff members on Oct 28 as they were working to douse a fire in Dhaka’s Shahjahanpur. They then set their water tanker ablaze.