The government’s latest steps will undoubtedly further ignite the tensions brewing in the political arena regarding the 8 February verdict in the Zia Orphanage Trust case. Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) has announced that meetings, processions and carrying weapons such as sticks and knives on that day are banned. These directives will come into effect from four in the morning till further notice. When will the further notice come into effect?
It is the responsibility of the law enforcement agencies to provide protection for the public and their property. But they cannot spread fear and panic over the country centering on the verdict of any particular case. It is a matter of further concern that the law enforcement has not restricted its activities merely to prohibiting rallies and processions within Dhaka. Media reports state that entrance points to Dhaka may also be blocked on that day. If that is true, there is certainly cause for alarm. Hundreds of thousands of people throng to the city every day for medical treatment, business and innumerable other reasons. It is not just illegal to bring everything to a halt because of a verdict in a certain case, it is downright inhuman.
The government and the ruling party maintain that the law enforcement agencies are not carrying out widespread arrests of BNP leaders and activists. They say that only those who attacked the police or those who snatched prisoners from the prison van have been caught. The people would be relieved if this was true. But reality is that the police have been continuously making arrests and carrying out searches ever since the attack on the police.
Thousands of BNP leaders and workers have been arrested, including a member of the party’s standing committee and several of the central committee. The attack on the police took place in Dhaka, yet many BNP persons are being arrested from outside of the capital city. Did they conduct the attack on the police by remote control?
Police arrested many of those who came out to greet Khaleda Zia on her way to Sylhet on Monday. BNP vice president and the lawyer in Narayanganj seven-murder case Sakhawat Hossain was among the arrested. Sakhawat Hossain played a leading role in the trial of accused in the seven-murder case. What does all of this indicate?
The Awami League general secretary had said they would not take up any programme in connection with the verdict. Yet it is shocking to see that Awami League leaders and activists carried out a procession at Narsingdi, carrying shoes and sticks, while Khaleda Zia was passing through on her way to Sylhet. This is reprehensible.
Meanwhile, the Secondary School Certificate (SSC) exam is being carried out all over the country. There is even an exam on the day of the verdict. If any untoward incident takes place on the day or if public life is hampered in any way in the name of banning meetings and processions, this will be harmful for the general public as well as the students taking their exams. It is hoped that the ruling and opposition parties display restraint in this regard.
DMP’s ban on rallies and gatherings in Dhaka has created a sense of alarm. If the arrests continue, the situation will deteriorate further. They must not do anything that will disrupt public peace and normal life.
No one has the right to disrupt peace in the name of upholding peace.