Bangladesh warns of tougher action against opposition
Dhaka – Bangladesh’s State Minister of Law Qamrul Islam Sunday said Bangladesh Nationalist Party’s (BNP) top leaders, including former prime minister Khaleda Zia, would be arrested if the opposition continues “vandalism and terrorist activities”.
“If the BNP continues vandalism and terrorist activities, then BNP’s top leaders, including Khaleda Zia, will have to face the same fate like the detained leaders,” The Daily Star quoted Qamrul Islam as saying.
Bangladesh opposition’s five top leaders were arrested Friday and Saturday in connection with two cases slapped on them for allegedly attempting to kill policemen and creating violence in the capital city.
Those who were arrested include BNP standing committee members Moudud Ahmed, M.K. Anwar and Rafiqul Islam Miah and BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia’s advisor Abdul Awal Mintoo and her Special Assistant Shamsur Rahman Shimul Biswas.
The Chief Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court in Dhaka passed the order Saturday evening to send the leaders to jail.
The state minister said no talks can be held with “terrorists” as “terrorism and dialogue” can not go together.
“Come up with a proposal for talks, shunning terrorist activities,” Qamrul Islam said, urging the opposition to join talks.
Police arrested the BNP leaders hours after Khaleda Zia’s 18-party opposition alliance announced another nationwide strike from Sunday to press its demand for restoration of the non-party caretaker government system to oversee the national elections slated for 2014.
Defending the arrests, Bangladesh Information Minister Hasanul Haque Inu said the leaders have been arrested for instigating attacks on people and property during the last strike.
Bangladesh’s parliament is due to expire Jan 24, 2014 and elections should be held within 90 days before its expiry.
Earlier, the alliance, which includes the key Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami party, observed a 60-hour countrywide strike from Oct 27.
Since June 2011, when parliament abolished the non-party caretaker government system after an apex court verdict declared the 15-year-old constitutional provision illegal, the BNP-led alliance has been holding mass protests demanding the reinstatement of the provision.