DHAKA, Jan 31 (Reuters) - Opposition activists accused Bangladesh’s government of cutting their leader’s electricity, Internet and cable connections on Saturday after days of violent anti-government protests.
The disconnections were reported soon after the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), led by Begum Khaleda Zia, called another 72-hour strike from Sunday morning along with its ongoing blockades of roads, railways and water routes.
At least 40 people have died and hundreds been wounded in protests that surged on Jan. 5, the first anniversary of contested national elections that the BNP boycotted, denouncing them as rigged.
Khaleda has been caught up in a standoff with Prime Minster Sheikh Hasina, calling for her government to step down for a new vote under a caretaker administration.
Hasina has refused, instead tightening her grip by arresting key opposition leaders and clamping down on critical media.
“There has been no electricity ... they have also cut Internet and cable television services to the office,” Khaleda’s Press Secretary Maruf Kamal Khan told reporters on Saturday, calling the move inhuman.
There was no immediate comment from the government, but senior ruling party member Hassan Mahmood on Saturday warned communications links would be cut if Khaleda did not call off protests before school exams on Monday.
The BNP has warned the government of dire consequence if it does not withdraw two arson charges against Khaleda and stop what it calls the oppression of its leaders and activists.
Analysts say the renewed political turmoil could threaten the country’s $24-billion garment export industry, already under pressure after a string of fatal accidents.
Hasina and Khaleda, both related to former national leaders, have alternated as prime minister for most of the past two decades in a fierce rivalry marked by bouts of political violence. (Reporting by Ruma Paul; Editing by Andrew Heavens)