POST TIME: 2 February, 2018 00:00 00 AM
tension mounts ahead of February 8 verdict
AL ready to tackle BNP on streets
Country awaiting aftermath of verdict on Feb 8
Abu Jakir

AL ready to tackle BNP on streets

The Awami League (AL) is ready to tackle its arch-rival, Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), on the streets if BNP leaders and workers try to create chaos after the verdict in the Zia Orphanage graft case in which their party chief Khaleda Zia is an accused.

Leader and workers of the AL Dhaka city unit, along with leaders and activists of associate bodies of the ruling party, have already been instructed to take to the streets on February 8, the day of the verdict, in a bid to tackle any untoward situation that might be created by BNP leaders and activists.

Talking to this correspondent, several leaders of the AL's Dhaka city unit (north and south) and its affiliated organisations said they would not allow BNP leaders and workers to take control of the streets of Dhaka to stage any kind of demonstration.

Political observers feel the verdict in the graft case could swing the country’s political pendulum towards unrest. Everyone seems to be waiting with bated breath to see which way the verdict goes and its aftermath. The apprehension is that if the court pronounces Khaleda Zia guilty, the country could face a chaotic situation.

It is widely believed in political circles that the Khaleda Zia is likely to be convicted to keep her away from the next general elections to be held.

However, central leaders of the ruling party said BNP-Jamaat leaders and workers would be tackled on the streets with the help of law enforcers, if they tried to unleash chaos after the verdict.

When contacted, AL joint general secretary Mahbubul Alam Hanif said the law would take its own course, stressing that the AL and the present government had nothing to do in the matter. “But if BNP-Jamaat activists try to hamper peoples’ lives and property, law enforcers will take care of them,” he added.

Shahe Alam Murad, general secretary of the AL’s Dhaka south city unit, said: “We’ll take to the streets on February 8. If BNP-Jamaat activists try to damage peoples’ lives and public property in the name of bringing out demonstrations, we’ll assist members of law enforcement agencies.”

Sadek Khan, general secretary of the AL’s Dhaka north city unit, said: “Leaders and activists from each and every ward, upazila and union will be on high alert on that day.”

He also claimed that they called a meeting on February 4 to take decisions about their work plan for February 8.

Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) mayor Sayeed Khokon said: “Leaders and activists of the AL will be on the streets on February 8. They will save people and public property from BNP anarchists if they try to create mayhem on that day.”

Home minister Assaduzzaman Khan Kamal said strict action would be taken against BNP activists if they engaged in riots in case the verdict went against Khaleda Zia and Tarique Rahman.

“Eveyone is equal in the eyes of the law. If the court finds Khaleda Zia and her son guilty, they would be punished. The AL has nothing to do in this regard,” he added.

According to BNP sources, the party is preparing to mobilise a huge gathering in the capital and other districts across the country on February 8. The party is likely to go for a tough movement if the court finds Khaleda Zia guilty in the Zia Orphanage graft case.

Law enforcers have already arrested over 1,000 BNP leaders and activists to keep the party in check on the day of the verdict.

In July 2008, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) filed a case with Ramna police station, accusing Khaleda Zia, BNP’s senior vice-chairman Tarique Rahman and four others of misappropriating over Tk. 2.10 crore that had come as grants for orphans from a foreign bank. The two other accused are Mominur Rahman, a son of the BNP chief’s sister, and Kamal Uddin Siddiqui, then principal secretary to Khaleda Zia.