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Violence rises in Bangladesh as nation gears for election on Sunday, train and polling booths set ablaze

Bangladesh is gripping through pre-election violence after the opposition called for a boycott of the general elections and a nationwide strike. A train was set ablaze killing four people on Friday. Even pooling booths were set on fire to disrupt scheduled election proceedings.

Violence rises in Bangladesh as nation gears for election on Sunday, train and polling booths set ablaze avv
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First Published Jan 6, 2024, 3:59 PM IST

Bangladesh is gearing up for its general elections on Sunday as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina contests for the fourth straight time against a weakened opposition. The opposition parties including the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) have called for a boycott of the election and nationwide strikes.

On Friday, a train arriving at Dhaka was set ablaze killing four people including two children, and injuring eight. The fire in the Benapole Express spread to four compartments causing major distress to passengers. The incident is being viewed as a means to disrupt the election proceedings on Sunday in Dhaka and other parts of the country.

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Similarly, arsonists also set ablaze five primary schools at which voting was scheduled on Sunday. The fires took place in the middle of the night in Gazipur on the outskirts of Dhaka. Attack on polling booths also took place in Moulavibazar and Habiganj districts. The opposition declared a boycott of the elections and declared a two-day strike to hamper the general elections. The Sheikh Hasina-led government has blamed the opposition for the fresh wave of violence.

Bangladesh has been witnessing violence since October when the opposition parties under the leadership of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) began nationwide protests. The large-scale protests resulted in the death of 10 people. Estimates suggest that Sheik Hasina is expected to return for the fourth straight time with the Awami League continuing its winning run.

Many political analysts in Dhaka also considered the January election as a foregone conclusion in the favour of Sheik Hasina. The major reason behind Sheik Hasina’s popularity is the consistent economic development that her government has successfully provided over the years. Bangladesh registered a 6 percent growth rate in 2023.

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