A nationwide dawn-to-dusk strike was called by the opposition in
Bangladesh Sunday over the eviction of former prime minister
Khaleda Zia from the government house she has lived in since 1972.
Roads across the country witnessed very thin traffic and all
educational institutions were closed, The Daily Star newspaper
The strike was called over Zia's eviction Saturday from the
single-storeyed colonial house in Dhaka Cantonment.
While the army, which technically owns the house, said Zia had
quit voluntarily, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) that Zia
leads insists she was evicted.
The government acted after the Dhaka High Court rejected Oct 12
Zia's appeal against her eviction. The court gave a one-month quit
notice that ended Friday.
Zia had appealed to the Supreme Court that fixed Nov 29 for
hearing. Her lawyers Saturday claimed to have received an
"assurance" from the chief justice against eviction.
A tearful Zia, 64, told the media Saturday evening at her party
office that she was "forcibly dragged out" of her house. She was
not even allowed to change her clothes and had to leave "ek kapore",
meaning with the clothes she had on at that time.
The former prime minister said memories of her husband and the
country's former president, late Ziaur Rahman, were in that house
and she was not even allowed to bring out her personal belongings.
Zia and her supporters disregarded an appeal by the country's
business leaders who urged her to withdraw Sunday's strike call
considering the "economic condition and suffering of homebound
people before Eid-ul-Azha", the United News of Bangladesh (UNB)
In a joint statement, they said new investors were showing
interest in putting in their money. "Sunday's hartal would have a
negative impact on investments."
Speaking for the government, Attorney General Mahbubey Alam said
Zia's counsel had not moved the stay petition against the high
court verdict to the appellate division to gain "political
According to Supreme Court rules, the high court verdict cannot be
automatically stayed unless it involves death sentence, he was
quoted as saying in the New Age Sunday.
Political observers said the incident would sharpen confrontation
between Zia, who has been boycotting parliament, and her arch
political rival, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
In an editorial Sunday, The Daily Star criticised the government's
"A legal battle takes to the street. Khaleda should have been
allowed to stay till the Supreme Court hearing."
"In an instance of impatience, leading to political ineptitude, a
strong legal and moral case has been transformed into a street
battle, to the advantage of BNP. Government's action of yesterday
was crude, uncivil and unnecessary."
"BNP's hartal call is unthinking. However, it will be the public
who will have to pay for their errors," it said.
Meanwhile, incidents of violence are being linked to the dispute.
Three people were killed and two injured in a suicide bomb attack
at the house of ruling Awami League lawmaker Afaz Uddin Ahmed in
Daulatpur subdistrict of Kushtia Saturday night.
Awami League said BNP activists and its Islamist ally Jamaat might
have been involved since the incident happened right after Zia's