The first day of the 48-hour hartal, enforced by Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, was marked by killing of an auto-rickshaw driver, stray incidents of vandalism, bomb blasts and clashes across the country on Wednesday.
The shutdown, called by the Islamist party demanding the release of its top leaders and protesting the death sentence to its assistant secretary general Quader Mollah, will continue until 6am on Friday.
An auto-rickshaw driver -- Abu Naser, 45, son of Abu Taher of Betua village in Dagonbhuiyan upazila of Feni -- was beaten to death reportedly by pro-hartal elements at Talerchara under Companiganj upazila in Noakhali during the first hours of the hartal.
Police said a group of hartal supporters halted a Basurhat-bound auto-rickshaw coming from Dagonbhuiyan on the Basurhat-Feni Road around 8:30 am and dragged its driver Naser down from the vehicle and hit him with sticks and brickbats, leaving him injured. Naser was rushed to Companiganj Upazila Health Complex where doctors declared him dead.
Pro-hartal activists also swooped on police at Satkania in Chittagong leaving a constable injured with bullet.
According to reports reaching the UNB news desk, at least 35, vehicles were damaged, 40 crude bombs blasted and 30 people were injured across the country. The law enforcers also arrested over 50 Jamaat-Shibir men during the first day hartal.
In the capital, there were incidents of chase and counter-chase between police and hartal supporters as Jamaat-Shibir men brought out processions in the city's Jatrabari, Gulshan, Dhalpur, Azimpur, Moghbazar, Nakhalpara, Kalsi Road under Pallabi thana, Mohakhali and Rampura Banasri areas.
Witnesses said around a dozen of crude bombs were exploded at different parts of the capital during the hartal that began at 6am.
Elsewhere in the city, pickets were hardly seen as additional security personnel, comprising police and Rab men, were deployed at all the key points and intersections to avert any untoward incident during the Islamist party's shutdown.
Slow-moving rickshaws and auto-rickshaws dominated the city streets as a fewer number of motorised vehicles plied the roads.
Meanwhile, a mobile court sentenced two pickets -- Shahidullah, 45, and Kamal Hossain, 35, -- to one year and six months of imprisonment respectively in the capital’s Khilgaon area.
Sub-inspector of Khilgaon Police Station Sushankar Paul said a team of police arrested the two from a pro-hartal procession in Banasri area around 7:30am.
Later, a mobile court, led by executive magistrate Shamim Babu Shanti, handed down Shahidullah one year’s imprisonment while Kamal for six months.
Sporadic incidents of violence, clashes and bomb blasts were also reported from different districts across the country.
The districts include Chittagong, Laxmipur, Gaibandha, Natore, Rajshahi, Satkhira, Pabna, Bogra, Comilla, Khulna, Jhenidah, and Gazipur.
Jamaat-e-Islami on Tuesday called the countrywide 48-hour hartal demanding the release of its top leaders and protesting the death sentence to its assistant secretary general Quader Mollah.
Jamaat acting secretary general Rafiqul Islam Khan made the shutdown call through a statement hours after the Supreme Court announced its verdict against Quader Mollah.
Allowing the government’s appeal seeking death sentence for Abdul Quader Mollah, the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered that the Jamaat leader be hanged for his crimes against humanity during the Liberation War in 1971.