‘Targeted’ arrests of opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party leaders and activists across the country continued on Tuesday ahead of the verdict in a corruption case against BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia scheduled for Thursday.
According to the police and BNP, at least 750 leaders and activists of different unit of BNP and front organisations were arrested in Dhaka, Jessore, Tangail, Pabna, Feni, Sylhet, Satkhira, Chandpur, Netrokona, Manikganj, Bogra, Sunamganj, Narayanganj, Brammanbaria, Munshiganj, Madaripur, Bagerhat, Moulvibazar, Rangamati, Chittagong, Mymensingh, Narsingdi and Lakshmipur on Tuesday.
BNP leaders said that police carried out raids on the houses of the political activists, ransacked the houses at places and arrested family members failing to capture the person they looked for.
The police headquarters deputy inspector general Mahbubur Rahman declined to comment.
About the alleged atrocities, police headquarters’ assistant inspector general (media and public relations) Seheli Ferdous said that the operational units could say how they were conducting operations but they did not have the figure of held BNP leaders and activists.
Rapid Action Battalion spokesperson Mufti Mahmud Khan said that they deployed their personnel and actions were being taken against anyone trying to disturb law and order.
Dhaka Chief Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court sources said that the police produced before the court 268 BNP leaders and activists on Tuesday and 231 on Monday.
‘None of the people arrested in past few weeks in Dhaka granted bail. They were remanded either in jail or police custody for interrogation,’ said a pro-BNP lawyer.
‘It’s targeted but indiscriminate arrest of opposition leaders and activists,’ said senior BNP joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police on Tuesday banned any procession or demonstration sitting or standing in roads blocking movement of traffic and pedestrians from 4:00am Thursday.
The metropolitan police also banned carrying cane, stick, sharp weapon and explosive. The bans would continue until further order.
Metropolitan police commissioner Asaduzzaman Mia said that he imposed the bans under the Dhaka Metropolitan Police Ordinance to maintain law and order.
He said that they had information that some individuals or quarters were intended to disrupt public security and public order through anarchy centring the pronouncement of the verdict.
Dhaka Special Judge’s Court 5 is scheduled for Thursday to pronounce verdict in the Zia Orphanage Trust corruption case against Khaleda, her enlist son Tarique Rahman and four others.
A prison directorate official said that nearly 3,000 people landed in jails in the past six days.
According to the prison statistics, the number of inmates increased to 75,912 by Tuesday from about 73,000 on January 31.
Rizvi at a press conference on Tuesday alleged that nearly 1,200 BNP leaders and activists were held from different parts of the country in past few days, and police during the arrest ransacked properties of their houses.
He said that most BNP leaders and activists were now out of their house and many became almost ‘homeless’.
In a statement on Tuesday morning, BNP said that its joint secretary general Habib-Un-Nabi Khan Sohel, also the president of Dhaka south city BNP, went missing after he had returned from Sylhet early Tuesday.
In Pabna, the police arrested BNP district unit secretary Habibur Rahman Tota, Sweschasebak Dal president Monwar Hossain Shamim, among others.
In Satkhira, the police arrested 71 BNP leaders and activists, including district Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal secretary Ahaduzzaman Arzad.
New Age correspondent in Sylhet reported that 21 BNP leaders and activists were arrested at different upazilas in Sunamganj in drives until early Tuesday.
Of them, 4 were arrested at sadar upazila, 3 each at Bishwambharpur, Chhatak, Doarabazar and Jamalganj, 2 each at Jagannathpur and Derai and 1 at Shalla, police officials said.
District Juba Dal leaders Hafizul Islam Raju, Oliur Rahman Oli and Sirajul Islam were among the arrested, the police officials said.
Sunamganj police additional deputy superintendent Md Habibullah said that the arrests were made following an intelligence report that they could run subversive activities.
New Age correspondent in Tangail reported that four BNP members, including Kalihati upazila Swachchhasebak Dal joint convener Luthfor Rahman Lenin, were arrested on Tuesday.
New Age correspondent in Lakshmipur reported that 20 BNP leaders and activists were arrested.
The correspondent in Magura reported that the police arrested 13 BNP people in overnight drives.
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