In a move that amplifies the ongoing political turmoil in Bangladesh, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has declared a 48-hour blockade, set to take place on November 12 and 13. This marks the fourth instance of such a program, with the first phase occurring from October 31 to November 2.
The BNP's demands include the resignation of the government, the establishment of a non-partisan government, and the release of prisoners, notably former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia. The blockade is scheduled to commence at 6 am on November 12 and conclude at 6 am on November 14.
The call for the blockade comes amidst a backdrop of escalating violence, initiated by supporters of the BNP and its allies since October 28. These incidents, carried out under the guise of peaceful rallies, have resulted in attacks on law enforcement, journalists, the vandalism of a hospital, and the destruction of numerous vehicles. Tragically, a policeman lost his life on the day of the violence, and a journalist injured in the attacks succumbed to his wounds later.
The aftermath of the violence has seen the BNP enforcing strikes and blockades, reminiscent of the turbulent period between 2013-2015. Supporters of the party reportedly engaged in widespread vandalism and arson, causing substantial damage to the economy during an already challenging global situation.
Sajeeb Wazed Joy, the Prime Minister's ICT Affairs Adviser, highlighted the severe economic repercussions, stating that Bangladesh incurred a loss of over $3.5 billion during the blockade and shutdown period between October 28 and November 6, orchestrated by the BNP, Jamaat, and their allies. Stakeholders in the transport sector reported losses amounting to Tk 21.4 crore during the six days of the BNP's program. Economists estimate that each day of hartal or shutdown costs the economy Tk 6,680 crore.
As Bangladesh braces for the fourth phase of the blockade, concerns mount over the continued impact on political stability and economic well-being in the nation.