Bangladesh Police Blame Opposition for Deadly Train Blaze

Tue Dec 19 2023
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DHAKA: Dhaka railway police chief Anwar Hossain raised suspicions of deliberate sabotage as a crowded train in the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, caught fire which resulted in the death of at least four.

The victims were burned to death, and images released by the fire service depicted flames engulfing a railway coach. Dhaka railway police chief Anwar Hossain raised suspicions of deliberate sabotage, accusing opposition activists of the tragic incident ahead of the upcoming general elections.

The train caught fire as it arrived in Dhaka shortly before dawn on Tuesday, causing chaos among passengers. Witnesses described being engulfed by smoke, with everyone struggling to breathe. Authorities suspect the involvement of individuals linked to recent strikes and transport blockades orchestrated by opposition groups boycotting the January 7 elections. This marks the second suspected attack on a train within a week, as tensions rise in the lead-up to the polls.

In a separate incident on December 13, a train derailment occurred north of the capital, resulting in one fatality. Subsequently, at least seven members of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) were detained. The BNP, along with other parties, including the country’s largest Islamist party, Jamaat-e-Islami, is boycotting the elections and demanding a vote under a neutral government. They argue that an election under Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s leadership would not be free and fair, a sentiment rejected by Hasina as unconstitutional.

The political unrest has led to widespread protests, strikes, and transport blockades, with tens of thousands of opposition officials and activists arrested over charges of violence. A.K.M Wahiduzzaman, a spokesman for the BNP, denied the party’s involvement in acts of sabotage, attributing the incidents to the authorities’ “false flag” operations aimed at discrediting the opposition.

As the nation grapples with these tragic events, concerns persist over the impact of political tensions on the democratic process, with international observers expressing alarm over potential democratic backsliding and extrajudicial actions.

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