At a press briefing Saturday, Mamunul Haque, a senior leader for Hefajat-e-Islami, said that a shutdown had been called to protest the deaths of those demonstrating against Mr. Modi’s visit to Bangladesh.
“We want to make this clear,” Mr. Mamunul said, “our movement is not against the government, our movement is against atheists and apostates.”
Conservative Islamic views have been gaining ground in Bangladesh, a secular democracy that is more than 90 percent Muslim. Anti-India and anti-Hindu sentiment has been used to challenge Ms. Hasina’s party, the Awami League, since the country was founded after a bloody war for independence from Pakistan in 1971.
Under Ms. Hasina, who has been in power on and off since 1996, and is serving a fourth consecutive term, Bangladesh has come to be seen as somewhat of an economic miracle, regularly posting 8 percent annual growth. Its ready-made garment industry is considered second only to China’s. And the country of 160 million has risen steadily up the United Nations Human Development Index.
Bangladesh’s success story, however, has a dark underbelly: accusations of deep corruption and the stifling of dissent in the increasingly authoritarian government of a country that has been prone to coups and political violence.
While Mr. Modi’s trip is mainly focused on Bangladesh’s anniversary celebrations, the visit also has political implications in India, where voting began Saturday in several state-level elections, including West Bengal, which borders Bangladesh.