Bangladesh passenger train ‘set on fire’ days before general election; 4 dead | World News - Hindustan Times
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Bangladesh passenger train ‘set on fire’ days before general election; 4 dead

Jan 06, 2024 05:35 AM IST

A senior official said the fire was “clearly an act of sabotage” aimed at scaring people ahead of the election.

At least four people were killed after a train in the Gopibag area of Bangladesh's capital, Dhaka, caught fire in an alleged case of arson ahead of the national election, scheduled for January 7, the Associated Press reported.

Rescue personnel remove a body bag from a burnt-out carriage of the Benapole Express in Dhaka on January 5, 2024(AFP)
Rescue personnel remove a body bag from a burnt-out carriage of the Benapole Express in Dhaka on January 5, 2024(AFP)

Four coaches of the passenger train, Benapole Express, came under the grip of the blaze in what is alleged to be an attack aimed at scaring people and barring them from voting in the parliamentary elections. The fire broke out as the train was moving towards the Dhaka railway station at 9 pm (local time).

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The two prominent political parties – the ruling Awami League and the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party – are at loggerheads over the conduct of the elections.

Also read: Eye on Bangladesh: What polls mean for India, region

According to the country's railways official, most of the 292 passengers were returning home from India.

The former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia-led party and other opposition parties have announced boycotting the polls, alleging the incumbent, Sheikh Hasina, of not conducting free or fair elections under her regime. The opposition demanded a neutral caretaker government to administer the polling, which was turned down, citing there was no provision in the constitution for such a move.

In a televised address, Hasina urged people to head to ballot stations and asked for “a chance to correct the mistakes”. “If I have made any mistakes along the way, I ask your forgiveness. If I can form the government again, I will get a chance to correct the mistakes. Give me an opportunity to serve you,” she said.

The fire was “clearly an act of sabotage” aimed at scaring people ahead of the election, a senior cop was cited as saying by the AP. Seven firefighting units have been rushed to the site to douse the blaze.

Over 100 foreign observers, three from India, have reached Bangladesh to oversee the general election on January 7.

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