Incumbents’ belligerence vis-à-vis opposition programme
THE Awami League-led government, through its belligerent words and deeds in respect of the March 12 ‘March towards Dhaka’ programme of the opposition led by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, seems to be paving the path for confrontation and thus stoking anxiety, if not panic, across society. According to a report front-paged in New Age on Saturday, the law enforcers have arrested several hundred people in the past few days. The police and the Rapid Action Battalion have also begun since Friday search of Dhaka-bound passenger buses at different places on different routes. Moreover, according to police sources quoted by a private news agency, a combined operation might be launched across the country to round up opposition leaders and activists so as to prevent them from attending the March 12 rally in the capital Dhaka. Besides, the law enforcers have also asked the city hotels not to check in any new guests in March 9-12 and restaurants in the Naya Paltan, where the BNP central office is located and where the opposition rally is scheduled to take place on March 12, to keep their shutters down in March 11-12.
Meanwhile, stalwarts of the AL-led ruling alliance have continued to spew venom about the opposition programme. On Friday, according to another report also front-paged in New Age on Saturday, the city Awami League general secretary and joint general secretary, who is also the state minister for law, justice and parliamentary affairs, declared that their activists would stay on the road to resist any attempt by the opposition to ‘unleash terror in the name of movement.’ Their colleague, the AL joint general secretary, at a separate meeting also held on Friday, urged the government to ban the opposition programme, which, according to him, ‘is designed for destruction.’ The Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal president, also present at the joint meeting of the ruling alliance’s city unit, claimed that the people were worried because conspiracies were being hatched centring the opposition programme. The people are worried alright, as he said, but how much of it is the opposition’s doing remains questionable, especially given the belligerent words and deeds by the government and the ruling alliance.
Indeed, if there is any conspiracy or plot associated with the opposition programme, as the government and ruling alliance leaders have so persistently claimed, the intelligence, security and law enforcement agencies are expected to get to the bottom of it, foil it and bring to book the perpetrators and masterminds of such conspiracy and plot. Regrettably, however, the actions of the law enforcers have taken thus far tend to suggest that the government has employed them to foil a programme that the opposition is well within their democratic rights to organise and observe. What is blatantly duplicitous is that, while the ruling alliance appears so hell bent on denying the opposition its fundamental right to freedom of assembly, it itself has organised and been drumming up support for a ‘grand rally’ in the capital on March 14.
Amidst all this, the leader of the opposition and BNP chairperson, quite expectedly, threatened the government with tougher movement if it tried to resist the ‘March towards Dhaka’, although she asked her party leaders and activists to keep peace at any cost and to avoid any confrontation, clash or provocation during the march. The opposition can be said to have exercised restraint thus far and stayed away from the potentially destructive programmes like frequent hartals (general strike) thus far. If the government and the ruling alliance continue to bully the opposition the way they have, the latter could very well go back to the old ways of frequent general strikes.
It would be disappointing and dangerous, if the situation were to come to such a pass. Hence, the government and the ruling alliance need to mend their ways. Of course, the government needs to deploy the law enforcement, intelligence and security agencies before and during the opposition programme. However, such deployment needs to be aimed at preventing, not provoking, unrest and assuring the people, not making them anxious.
comments powered by Disqus