Police yesterday tried to stop eminent citizens from forming a human chain in front of the Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban to protest killings, disappearances and abductions.
Under the banner of "Concerned Citizens", rights activists and family members of the eight people allegedly abducted by the Rapid Action Battalion on December 8 last year gathered in front of the parliament building complex around 4:45pm.
At one stage, police intervened and took away their banners, leaflets and loudspeakers.
Noted economist Debapriya Bhattacharya told journalists, "I am surprised why our banners, placards, leaflets and loudspeakers have been taken away. The banners have no anti-government content."
Rights activist Shaheen Anam said, “'We want justice for disappearances, killings and abductions. We want the perpetrators to be tried and punished,' were the words written on our banners.
"We held similar programmes here on many occasions before and never had to take permission for them. Yet, we informed the DMP [Dhaka Metropolitan Police] yesterday [Friday] about our programme."
Debapriya said they had written to the DMP on Friday regarding the human chain but did not get any response.
Masudur Rahman, DMP deputy commissioner (media), however, told The Daily Star the "Concerned Citizens" did not seek permission for their programme.
Seeking anonymity, a police official from Tejgaon zone said they allowed the civil society members to form the human chain for about an hour even though they did not have any permission.
"The parliament premises are a sensitive place, but we allowed them to continue with their programme with respect," the official added.
Former caretaker government adviser Rasheda K Chowdhury said, "The government gives permission to Hefajat-e Islam for holding a rally, but when people like us want to voice our rights peacefully, we get gagged."
Rights activists Hamida Hossain, Sultana Kamal, Sarah Hossain, Bodiul Alam Majumdar, Iftekharuzzaman, ZI Khan, CR Abrar, Shirin Haque, former MP of Narayanganj Kobori Sarwar were among those who gathered to call for an end to disappearances, killings, abductions, extrajudicial killings and arrests made by plainclothes cops and arrests without warrants.
The "Concerned Citizens" also demanded justice for the murders committed in Narayanganj including that of Toki. They urged the politicians not to protect the godfathers, and stop the politics of blame.
They also said they would gather in front of the parliament building again on Wednesday afternoon with permission from the DMP.