Govt will continue repression, BNP feels after attacks on JCD men

Sporadic clashes took place between BCL and Chhatra Dal men on the Dhaka University campus on Wednesday noon.Sajid Hossain

BNP has been caught off guard by the attacks on Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal (JCD) leaders by the ruling party student wing Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL). They think the attacks are not carried out on the spur of the moment, but that the ruling party wants to give a message ahead of the next general election that they will resort to repression rather than forging any compromise.

Several BNP leaders said Awami League top brass in some recent remarks said the next election would be a neutral one and they want BNP’s participation in that election. Some Awami League leaders even ‘softened’ their tone giving an inkling of their wish to hold inclusive polls. But that situation has changed with attacks on JCD men in the city, foiling rallies of BNP and associate bodies in different parts of the country.

BNP leaders think that the ruling party wanted to send a fresh message that they would not stop the repression of the opposition by attacking JCD men repeatedly. They want to hold the next national election in 2023 maintaining such an environment. The BNP leaders think such attacks would break the illusions of some of the party men who were being convinced by the ‘soft tone’ of the government. They think such attacks also target destabilising BNP’s effort to form a greater anti-government alliance.

The JCD men came under on different occasions in three days. They came under attack on 22 May evening, 24 and 26 May. The fiasco started with an allegation that JCD secretary general Saif Mahmud made a derogatory remark about prime minister Sheikh Hasina.

BCL men attacks JCD's organising secretary Abu Afsan Mohammad Yahya on 24 May
Prothom Alo

BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir told Prothom Alo that the attacks were carried out with two motives. One is to keep JCD under pressure by launching attacks and filing cases. The other target is to intimidate the opposition political parties.

The new central committee of JCD was formed on 17 April making Kazi Rawnakul Islam president and Saif Mahmud general secretary. The JCD men came under attack by the ruling party's student wing within a few days. But the BNP leadership thinks that JCD successfully proved that they have popularity through the two days ‘showdown’. JCD’s display of strength has worried the ruling party and that’s why they launched the attacks in broad daylight and justified their action openly.

The BCL president Al-Nahean Khan in a human chain programme organised in Raju Sculpture area on Sunday asked JCD to apologise publicly if they want to enter the campus again.

Those who dare to make defamatory remarks about prime minister Sheikh Hasina have no need to come to campus, the BCL president warned.

BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir told Prothom Alo, “This is their old strategy of repressing political opponents. They even beat up Maulana Bhashani, who is the founder of the Awami League, and evicted him from a hall. He then formed National Awami Party.”

Several BNP top leaders said that they think the attacks on JCD were intended to preempt a greater anti-government alliance which is in the offing demanding the next elections held under a neutral and non-partisan polls-time government. The government is sending a clear message that none can take to the streets over this issue.

Awami League snatched away people's votes in last two elections. They are indicating their intention to steal people’s votes again through the recent attacks
Amir Khosru Mahmud Chowdhury, BNP standing committee member

BNP standing committee member Amir Khosru Mahmud Chowdhury told Prothom Alo, "Awami League snatched away people's votes in last two elections. They are indicating their intention to steal people’s votes again through the recent attacks.”

Several insiders of BNP, however, said the party does not want to take a retaliatory stance as yet. They are working on mobilising associate bodies of the party through various programmes alongside accelerating the process to unite the opposition political parties.