Police high-handedness will only shrink democratic space

Published: 00:05, Jul 16,2017 | Updated: 00:47, Jul 16,2017


THE police storming into the house of ASM Abdur Rob, president of a faction of the Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal, at Uttara in Dhaka and cordoning off the house while a tea party was going on inside on Thursday evening is disparaging. Some other political leaders — Nagarik Oikya convener Mahmudur Rahman Manna, Krishak Sramik Janata League president Abdul Kader Sidduque, Bikalpadhara Bangladesh president AQM Badruddoza Chowdhury, who is also a former president of the republic, Revolutionary Workers Party general secretary Saiful Haque, Abdul Malek Ratan who is general secretary of a faction of the Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal and Socialist Party of Bangladesh leader Khaliquzzaman — as New Age reported, attended the party. With politics and political discussions and inviting others, even if political leaders, not being banned in any way in Bangladesh, such an action of the police highlights high-handedness, assumedly with approval of higher authorities, of the law enforcement agency itself and of the government that is led by the Awami League. Such unlawful intervention, especially when talks about the national elections started to be heard, could imply a kind of intimidation that has come to be a further manifestation of what the Awami League-led government has been doing with opposing political parties, especially the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, after the 2014 national elections.
The incumbents in their first tenure had locked up the office of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party in the capital for months when the party, along with other major political parties, stayed off the electoral fray. The law enforcers also in January 2015 had cordoned off the BNP cheif’s office, with the party chief Khaleda Zia being confined within, for 92 days. In May this year, the police conducted a sudden raid on the office of Khaleda Zia, a former prime minister for three terms who heads the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, in search for ‘anti-state materials on charges levelled in a general diary filed by an ‘unnamed’ individual, searched and filmed each of the rooms and floors and examined the footage of closed-circuit television cameras in an around the office for three hours. The incumbents have since then shrunken the democratic space for opposition parties, mainly the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, to move about. Now such tactics of intimidation has, as evident in Thursday’s police action, reached other parties. With the national elections showing up around the corner and with many other big issues concerning the elections yet to be settled, such incidents that can further shrink democratic space for opposition parties can have a serious bearing on the political process.
Such high-handedness of the government, manifested through the law enforcement agencies, might not augur well for people, political parties and the country and not even for the democratic dispensation that the nation has always strived for. It is, therefore, time that the incumbents understood that such action that could shrink the democratic space for opposition parties might unlawfully stop dissent, setting the country backwards. The incumbents had better stop indulging in such bad politics.

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