Police charged baton and used water cannon to disperse supporters of the half-day hartal enforced by Left Democratic Alliance (LDA) protesting the price hike of daily essentials at Paltan intersection in the city on Monday.
Riaz Montu, one of the hartal supporters, said, "We were staging demonstrations peacefully. But police charged baton on us around 12pm."
The half-day nationwide hartal enforced by Left Democratic Alliance (LDA) to protest the soaring prices of edible oil, other essential commodities and utility services ended at 12 pm.
Hartal supporters brought out processions in the city's Paltan intersection and held sit-in programmes, halting the vehicular movement from Kakrail to GPO intersection and Press Club to Dainik Bangla intersection in the morning. Left-leaning leaders, students and activists also blocked Shahbagh intersection.
Vehicular movement from Science Lab to Shahbagh, Farmgate to Shahbagh and Press Club to Shahbagh remained halted for several hours, causing severe gridlocks that also spread to other parts of the capital, said Assistant Commissioner (Traffic-Shahbagh) Md Nurun Nabi.
The hartal began at 6am and continued till 12pm.
The LDA affiliated parties, including Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB), Bangladesher Samajtantrik Dal, called the hartal programme as part of their earlier announcement.
The hartal supporters took to different streets in the capital and blockaded the road, forcing the police to remain alert.
The protesters blockaded the Paltan road at the beginning of the hartal, triggering severe traffic congestion in the area. Additional police forces were deployed to avert any untoward incident.
The vehicular movement was normal except for some roadblocks in different parts of the capital.
The transport services in different routes like Gulistan, Jatrabari, Sayedabad, Azimpur, Mirpur were seen normal.
Additional policemen were seen deployed at different strategic points of the city.
The leaders and activists of Bangladesh Students' Union blockaded the Shahbag intersection since morning. They carried out the hartal programme by torching tyres, holding banners and posters and shouting slogans in favour of the hartal. The blockade of the Shahbag intersection triggered traffic jams in different streets connected to the intersection.
General Secretary of CPB Ruhin Hossain Prince said, people from Teknaf to Tentulia have come out of their residents and supported the hartal, protesting the government's 'reign of terror'. The government cannot disperse the general people by intimidation, he added.
Chief Coordinator of Gana Sanghati Andolan Junaid Saki said, the leaders and workers of the left-leaning political parties ventured to bring out processions in support of the support but police intercepted them.
He alleged that police force detained nine of their activists. He also claimed that the hartal supporters across the country faced police resistance and attack. The major political party Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has given moral support to the hartal, but none of the BNP activists and leaders was found picketing during hartal hours.
BNP senior leader Ruhul Kabir Rizvi on Sunday said, "BNP supports any programme for people's welfare."
The hartal supporters at Chashara in Narayanganj faced police resistance when they tried to bring out processions in support of the strike. In the port city Chattogram, the hartal supporters faced police resistance at the New Market area during picketing.
Early in the morning, the party leaders and workers took positions in different areas including New Market Intersection, Railway Station in Chattogram. When they started picketing in those areas, police resisted them, which led to altercation and hassling and jostling. The police said they tried to disperse the pickets when they tried to blockade the streets to hamper the normal flow of vehicles.
The leftist political platforms and other parties have been protesting the price hike of the daily essentials. They urged the Awami League government to take immediate steps to curb the skyrocketing prices so that general people can meet their ends.
In kishoreganj, Left Democratic Alliance organised rallies at Gourango Bazar, Station road, Puranthana, Kalibari road areas in support of countrywide half-day strike to protest abnormal price hike of daily commodities. The activists of the party took position at Gourango Bazar area from 6:00am and later they held a rally led by CPB district president comrade Abdur Rahman.