Amid the government’s well preparation to deal with any untoward situation and the ban on any gathering in the city on Thursday (Feb 8), Bangladesh Nationalist Party - BNP looks firm to stage a ‘‘peaceful’’ demonstration if their chairperson is ‘‘unfairly’’ convicted, escalating tensions among city dwellers, including the SSC examinees and their guardians, local media reports said.
However, BNP is unlikely to go for any programme like general strike (hartal) and blockade even if Begum Khaleda Zia is convicted, apparently to avoid violence and not to lose public support ahead of the next general election.
At the party's national executive committee meeting on Saturday, the party leaders and activists vowed to ensure the peaceful presence of huge number of their leaders and activists on the streets in Dhaka and other parts of the country to register their protest if any ‘‘injustice’’ is done to Khaleda in the Zia Orphanage Trust Graft case.
Party senior leaders said they will carefully try to ‘‘avoid’’ any ‘‘violence’’ and they have asked their party men not to respond to any ‘‘provocation’’ by the ruling party men. Bangladesh Awami League senior leaders said they will remain alert on the day so that their main rival party activists cannot create any anarchic situation over the court verdict.
Police are also making various plans and taking various steps to fend off any trouble if the BNP chief is convicted. As part of the steps, the Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) on Tuesday (Feb 6) imposed a ban on holding any procession and carrying sharp weapons, explosives, flammable materials in the capital on Thursday (Feb 8).
Police officials at a meeting, led by IGP Mohammad Javed Patwary, decided not to allow BNP members to stand on the streets on the day. A huge number of police will be deployed in and around the special court areas and all the entry points of the city. Meanwhile, the movement of vehicles will be restricted to prevent BNP leaders and activists from gathering at any point to stage demonstrations.
According to local media reports, the police headquarters also sent a letter to the superintendents of police across the country alerting them of possible emerging situations on Thursday and giving them necessary directions to deal with those effectively.
In the letter, the police headquarters said miscreants may try to create an anarchic situation by taking position in large number in Dhaka and other big cities and towns, circulate misleading information on the social media, and attack law enforcers, public transport and important government establishments.
To face the possible situations, the police also mentioned some directions, including intensifying security at important and strategic points, all the thanas and offices of police and other key public establishments, setting up check posts, keeping all the CCTV under police watch in operation, identifying possible vulnerable spots, strengthening intelligence agencies’ activities, increasing the number of police in patrol teams, taking steps to capture the photos of trouble makers, collecting photographs of untoward incidents from journalists and mobilising public opinions about violent acts.
DMP deputy commissioner (media) Masudur Rahman said adequate plainclothes police and members of different intelligence agencies will be there at the city’s different strategic points alongside the several thousand regular police members so that no one can break the law.
It was learnt that, Khaleda is likely to hold a press conference on Wednesday (Feb 7), just a day before a special court is set to deliver verdict in her graft case. Later at night, she will hold a meeting with her party’s standing committee members and finalise the party’s future ‘‘movement’’ and election strategy.
BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said their party leaders and activists together with people can register their protest in a peaceful manner if their chairperson is “unlawfully” convicted in a “false” case.
Meanwhile, Awami League general secretary Obaidul Quader said their party has no political programme on Thursday as they do not want to engage in violence.