A driver was burned to death and his assistant suffered injuries as their bus was set alight at the capital's Khilgaon yesterday on the eve of the opposition-called hartal.
Nine more buses, including three with passengers, were torched at Mirpur-1 and 10, Baridhara, Azimpur, Abdullahpur Beribadh, Gulistan, Darus Salam, Farmgate and near Bahadur Shah Park, fire brigade officials said. The latest was around 8:15pm.
Police identified the ill-fated bus driver as Badar Ali Beg, 48. They took the injured, Abdul Motaleb, 26, to Khilgaon Police Station for interrogation.
Motaleb, who suffered burns on his neck and back of his head, told The Daily Star that the two were sleeping on the isle in the afternoon; Motaleb was closer to the doors. Excessive heat woke him up, and seeing fire and smoke, he jumped out of a window. All the doors were locked.
For the moment, he had forgotten that Badar was inside, he said.
None in the area could say how and by whom the bus was set on fire.
Roadside tea-stall owners, vendors or road construction workers said they had not seen the fire start. They said three buses of Eagle Paribahan were parked there and the one at the end got burned.
Mohammad Hasan, a road construction worker, told this correspondent that around 2:00pm he and some other workers were bathing about 30 yards off the buses. They suddenly noticed the fire.
All of them rushed to it and saw the helper jump out.
"Ustad", the youth cried out and said his "boss" was inside, Hasan said. The people prevented him from approaching the burning bus.
Firefighters put out the blaze by 2:30pm.
Salesman Tapash Chakrabarti at Eagle Paribahan Bus Counter on DIT Road, Malibagh said Badar drove the bus to the counter from Khulna at around 11:00am and parked it at the scene of the incident so that he and his helper could take rest. The 40-seat chair coach was scheduled to leave for Khulna at 3:00pm.
Sirajul Islam Sheikh, officer-in-charge of Khilgaon Police Station, told this correspondent that till yesterday evening police could not know who set the bus on fire or find any witness to the incident.