Political programmes and violence: Crisis should be resolved through political means 

The country experienced a week of conflict following unexpected violence at the BNP rally on 28 October. This situation, which nobody desired, resulted in at least nine fatalities, including a policeman. The violence unfolded in various districts, including Dhaka, during a three-day blockade from Tuesday to Thursday, with a break after Sunday's strike. 

During this period, numerous vehicles, such as passenger buses and cargo trucks, were set on fire and vandalised. Many individuals, including police officers, journalists, political workers, and pedestrians, sustained injuries.  

Furthermore, cases have been filed against leaders and workers across the country, including BNP's top leadership, who are being arrested. Of major concern is the political uncertainty and deadlock that has arisen ahead of the 12th National Parliament elections. This situation is likely to significantly impact our already fragile economy, which faces various pressures, including the Covid pandemic and global conflicts. 

According to a report by Prothom Alo, the violence that erupted on 28 October disrupted the BNP's rally, resulting in two fatalities. During this incident, 55 vehicles were set ablaze. Furthermore, two individuals lost their lives in the violence that occurred during Sunday's strike in Dhaka and Lalmonirhat. This violence spread to at least 20 districts, where nine vehicles were also set on fire. Tragically, a bus attendant was burnt to death when a bus was set ablaze. 

On the first day of the blockade, clashes between the police and Awami League leaders broke out at nine locations across the country, leading to three casualties in Kishoreganj and one in Sylhet. On that day, four buses and a covered van were also set on fire.  

During the second day of the blockade, confrontations between BNP supporters and the police left 15 people injured in Bogura and Narayanganj. Incidents involving the throwing of cocktails and petrol bombs occurred near the Ishwardi Bypass station, targeting the Bangladesh-India Friendship Express train. Additionally, passenger buses were set on fire in various places, including Dhaka and Chattogram. Cargo trucks met a similar fate. 

Even on the last day of the blockade, there was an arson incident involving a bus in Dhaka. 

Ordinary people bore the brunt of the political conflict throughout the week. Dhaka became practically isolated from the rest of the country as long-distance bus services came to a near halt. While trains and launches continued to operate, there were few passengers. In Dhaka and Chattogram, some public transport services were in operation, but at significantly reduced capacity compared to normal days.

Additionally, there was a decrease in the discharge of containers from the Chattogram port. Many businesses had to shut down, and even sidewalk shopkeepers struggled to maintain their stalls. Although schools and colleges remained open, student attendance was notably low. It is evident that these programmes disrupted normal public life. 

On the last day of the three-day blockade programme, some parties, including BNP and Ganatantra Mancha, have called for another blockade programme across the country next Sunday and Monday. 

A total of 28 cases have been registered in connection with the 28 October conflict. Most of the accused in these cases are prominent leaders of the BNP. The party's general secretary, Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, and standing committee member, Mirza Abbas, have been arrested, and raids have been carried out to apprehend leaders.

In addition to these cases, there have been several instances of violence during the strike and blockade, resulting in the arrest of hundreds of leaders and activists in different districts of the country, including Dhaka. It is crucial to identify and bring to justice those involved in police killings and other acts of violence. However, we believe that the arrest of BNP's top leaders will exacerbate the political stalemate.  

The current political crisis has its roots in the two disputed elections of 2014 and 2018. A systematic programme and dialogue represent the only viable alternatives to resolving this political crisis. The use of force in the streets or the misuse of state power should not be the language of democratic politics.

The crisis must be peacefully resolved, moving beyond strikes, blockades, violence, lawsuits, and arrests. The political crisis should be addressed through political means. Why should common people suffer?