Dozens of political parties participating in the anti-government movement have geared up protests to occupy the streets with their demand for the resignation of the prime minister and a neutral interim administration ahead of the 12th national election.
The other major demands of the opposition bloc, led by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), are the unconditional release of BNP Chairperson and former premier Khaleda Zia, currently in hospital for treatment of various ailments, and the withdrawal of cases against BNP leaders and activists.
The BNP claims that some 4.5 million supporters are facing over 135,000 cases and that the cases are politically motivated. The BNP has also prepared a list of around 500 police officials who they claim were involved in harassing their leaders and activists.
The party is raising these issues at its rallies, press conferences and TV talk shows as well as during the meetings of party leaders with foreign diplomats, advocating human rights, democracy and a fair atmosphere during the election. The parties in the simultaneous movement have also announced that they will do whatever is necessary to unseat the government.
On the other hand, the law enforcers have started preparing to maintain stability in the country, including on the highways, considering the desperateness of the opposition activists during street agitations, by empowering the law enforcers.
The Awami League-led government fears more sabotage and anarchy in the name of a one-point movement as the opposition parties did in the 2013-15 period.
Moreover, the authorities have ordered the officials concerned to speed up the investigation and trials of the cases filed against “anarchists” before and after the previous elections.
According to a source in the Ministry of Home Affairs, the opposition political parties may engage in anarchy in the name of agitation on the streets in view of the national elections. In addition, religious extremists, militant groups and terrorists can also emerge through this opportunity.
As part of the plan, 90,000 long-range tear gas canisters are being brought from Turkey to prevent street agitations.
According to an order of the Home Ministry dated September 3, a delegation led by Joint Secretary SM Ferdous has gone to Turkey to visit tear gas shell factories and check their effectiveness.
Meanwhile, Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) Commissioner Khandkar Ghulam Farooq asked the police to be cautious in an instruction last week. The officer-in-charge (OC), assistant commissioner (AC) and deputy police commissioners (DC) of the respective police stations have been asked to regularly inform the additional commissioner of police (logistics) whether the police stations have enough arms and ammunition.
Instructions have also been given to the police officers working at the field level to inform them of new strategies for police operations to deal with the ongoing political situation.
At the same time, the DMP’s intelligence wings have been directed to take necessary measures for the speedy disposal of the 134 political cases pending for more than two years.
Instructions have been given for quick disposal of the cases filed over the violent incidents that took place to prevent the 10th national parliament elections in 2014, as well as to activate the cases which are suspended by order of the High Court or for any other reason, according to the information for the month of July of the relevant branch of the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Some 3,786 cases were filed in these incidents from January 1 to December 31, 2013. Among them, chargesheets were pressed in 3,549 cases and final reports in 186 cases. The investigation of 51 cases has not been completed yet.
Additionally, from January 1 to June 30, 2015, another 1,826 cases of violence were filed across the country. Out of this, chargesheets were given in 1,789 cases, and final reports in 33 cases. Four of the cases are still under investigation. Police Headquarters has been asked to continue monitoring the cases to ensure maximum punishment for those responsible for killings and damage to public property during the movement.
Earlier, massive violence was perpetrated against members of the Awami League and the Hindu community after the eighth national election in October 2001. A judicial inquiry committee was formed under the direction of the High Court. Based on its report, some 435 cases were filed across the country. Out of this, police submitted chargesheets in 386 cases and final reports in 33 cases.
On August 31, during a meeting at the Rajarbagh Police Lines, IGP Chowdhury Abdullah Al-Mamun said that all policemen were ready to maintain law and order in the country, prevent any plot against the country and keep law and order under control.