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Bangladesh opposition, govt face off in Dhaka march
Publication Date : 26-12-2013
The government and the opposition are on the verge of a face-off, as the opposition BNP-led alliance is determined to make Sunday's march to Dhaka a success to compel the government to postpone the January 5 election.
On the other hand, the government has taken a tough line and will do whatever is necessary to frustrate the combined 18-party's plan. It might deny the opposition permission to hold the programme, according to government sources.
Meanwhile, BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia has said the government will face dire consequences if it tries to obstruct the opposition's march.
She made the comment while speaking to a delegation of the Christian community at her Gulshan office on the occasion of Christmas.
The main opposition party yesterday sought permission from the Dhaka Metropolitan Police to use loudspeakers around its Nayapaltan central office on Sunday.
It requested the DMP to provide security to Khaleda and other leaders who will gather at the party office, said Shamimur Rahman Shamim, assistant office secretary of the BNP.
Shamim was among the three-member BNP team that submitted the letter to the DMP commissioner's office in the morning.
On Tuesday, Khaleda, also leader of the opposition, announced Sunday's programme and urged people from every corner of the country to join the march to force the government to postpone the January 5 polls.
Government sources said the opposition leader would be barred from joining the programme on Sunday, just six days before the national election.
State Minister for Home Shamsul Haque Tuku told The Daily Star that the opposition programme was aimed at resisting the January 5 election.
"If the BNP wants to create anarchy through the programme, the law enforcement agencies will take all measures to tackle the situation," he said.
Sources said the government might soon go for a crackdown on leaders and activists of the BNP and Jamaat-e-Islami across the country to prevent them from joining Sunday's agitation.
If necessary, the government might halt traffic movement to and from the capital as it did before the BNP's march to Dhaka on March 12 last year.
Leaders and activists of the ruling Awami League would take positions at four gateways to the capital from Saturday to bar the opposition men from entering the capital, said AL sources.
In a joint statement yesterday evening, 14 AL lawmakers and two Jatiya Party leaders said many militants and criminals from different districts were taking shelter in the capital.
They urged the law enforcement agencies to immediately arrest all identified criminals, saying these anti-people elements were trying to create anarchy in the capital.
The leaders also called upon city residents to assist the law enforcers.
At a meeting at the party president's Dhanmondi office last night, top AL leaders asked lawmakers in the capital to remain alert and resist the opposition men if they try to create anarchy in the city.
They also directed the MPs to take to the streets to foil the BNP's move to thwart the January 5 polls, said sources.
The Dhaka city AL will hold a meeting at the party's central office today to decide its next course of action in the wake of the opposition programme.
The ruling party has asked its district-level leaders to remain alert and make sure that the opposition activists cannot create chaos in any district.
Conversely, the BNP has instructed its grassroots men to take part in Sunday's “March for Democracy” at any cost.
Apprehending that the government might try to foil the opposition's march to Dhaka, the party advised its grassroots leaders and activists to come to the capital two or three days ahead of the programme and stay with their relatives or friends here, said BNP insiders.
A number of the party's district leaders and activists told The Daily Star that many of them had already left for the capital in small groups as the government might suspend all communications between the capital and the rest of the country a day or two before the programme.
Party leaders and activists would be asked to stage sit-ins wherever they are prevented from marching towards the capital, said BNP insiders.
If the government resists Sunday's programme, the BNP might hold a small rally in front of its office and announce the next course of action, they said.
BNP high-ups said the party chief would announce tougher programmes, including non-cooperation with the government, till the election day.
The BNP-led combine will stage demonstrations all over the country today, protesting “attacks on its leaders and activists” in the last five spells of nationwide blockade.
Besides, the opposition will bring out processions in all cities, districts and upazilas across the country.