BNP yet to get formal permission
Blanket arrests continue before March 12 rallyStaff Correspondent
The police on Saturday barred the Bangladesh Nationalist Party from setting up stages and PA systems in front of the party office at Naya Paltan saying that the BNP-led alliance was yet to get permission to hold a rally at the place on Monday.
Long-distance buses plying between outlying areas and the capital city are likely to stay off the roads on Sunday and Monday as they have already stopped selling tickets for the days.
Launch services have also been suspended from such areas to Dhaka before the march towards Dhaka the alliance has planned for Monday.
‘As far as I know, the BNP is yet to get any formal permission for the rally,’ the Dhaka Metropolitan Police spokesperson, Monirul Islam, also a deputy commissioner of the Detective Branch (south), told New Age.
He, however, said that the issue was under consideration.
Monirul made the comment after DMP officials had held a meeting, chaired by with its commissioner Benazir Ahmed, on the security of city dwellers in view of Monday’s rally.
Law enforcers, meanwhile, on Saturday continued arresting people and the authorities with the help of local Awami League leaders and activists reportedly obstructed people reaching Dhaka.
The police and the Rapid Action Battalion arrested 3,616 people across the country in 24 hours till 6:00am on Saturday, police officials said.
According to the officials, 911 people were arrested at places in the Dhaka division while 352 in Rajshahi, 206 in Rangpur, 85 in Chittagong, 370 in Khulna, 126 in Barisal and 165 in Sylhet.
Many hotels in the city announced closure for three days from Sunday morning reportedly at the instruction of the police.
The DMP spokesperson, however, said that they had asked owners of hotels, motels and messes in the Dhaka city to keep names, addresses and photographs of customers before renting out rooms to them.
The decision on the directive was made in the past week to keep law and order this week with three major events taking place: the Asia Cup begins on Sunday, the BNP holds the rally on Monday and the Awami League-led alliance holds a rally on Wednesday, Monirul told reporters on Saturday.
The New Age correspondent in Munshiganj reported that the ferry services had been halted on Saturday, causing immense sufferings to passengers.
The acting BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir accused the government of waging an undeclared war on the people by unleashing a reign of terror and employing all devices to foil the opposition rally.
Owners of several inter-district bus services told New Age that the administration had asked them not to ply their buses towards the capital on the two days.
TR Paribahan manager Jewel Das Gupta in Chittagong told New Age that they had already stopped plying buses fearing any attacks.
Reports from Khulna said that Sohagh Paribahan had stopped selling tickets on Saturday morning at the instruction of the police.
Transport companies such as Eagle, Saudia, Hanif, Druti and Saukhin have also been asked to spot selling tickets for buses scheduled to leave by 9.00pm Saturday.
The Bangladesh Bus and Truck Paribahan Trust chairman, Golam Mohammad Siraj, told New Age that the local administration and Awami League leaders had asked them to stop selling tickets at midnight past Saturday.
‘The ministers and local Awami League lawmakers have asked transport owners to keep their vehicles off the roads,’ he said. ‘The police also asked transport leaders to stop running their vehicles before the BNP programme in the capital.’
The Bangladesh Road Transport Association’s secretary general Khandakar Enayetullah said that they were yet to make any decision on running their vehicles on Sunday and Monday.
The Barisal Bus Owners’ Association president Alamgir Hossain and secretary Shah Alam Fakir said that the ticket counters of buses that ply to Dhaka had been closed on Saturday evening, according to reports from Barisal.
They said that they would not open the ticket counters before Monday evening in line with an order from their Dhaka offices for the safety of the buses and security of the passengers.
People, however, said that tickets for travel during March 11–13 had not been sold to them.
The correspondent in Chandpur reported that the police had requisitioned most of the launches and some buses, causing serious problems to people travelling to Dhaka from Chandpur.
The Chandpur police officer-in-charge, Mohammad Zaker Hossain, said that five out of the seven launches had been requisitioned. The other two launches are also not in service, the sources said.
The police have also requisitioned seven of the 45 buses plying between Chandpur and Dhaka.
Senior vice-chairman of the Bangladesh Inland Waterways (Passengers Carrier’s) Association Md Badiuzzaman Badal told New Age that the administration had started checking Dhaka-bound people at all the ferry terminals in places including Barisal, Chandpur, Narayanganj and Bhola.
The Association of Bus Companies, a platform of owners of several thousand buses in the capital, meanwhile, decided not to ply their vehicles on March 12.
One of the bus company owners, Syed Rezaul Karim, also the chairman of the Trans Silva Group, told New Age, ‘Most of the owners have decided not to ply their buses on city routes on March 12 as they were worried about the security of the vehicles.’
Alongside the present strength of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police of 23,000 personnel, including 5,000 of the Special Armed Forces and 5,500 of the Public Order Management, some 10,000 additional police personnel have been called from the different ranges to ‘maintain’ security of the capital, the Dhaka Metropolitan Police headquarters said.
Armoured personnel carriers, water canons and command vehicles would be deployed in the capital before Monday, police officials said.
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