A Dhaka court on Monday charged 147 leaders and activists of BNP-led alliance for offences like assault on police, blasting of cocktails and creating panic during a rally held by the alliance in March last year. It is indeed a rare instance of so many political leaders and workers being indicted in a single case in the country. And it simply boggles the mind to think that the accused, many of whom are senior and respectable citizens, committed offences like attacking the police or blasting bombs in a rally that they organized near their central party office.
It is worthwhile to note that initially the charges were brought against the accused about two weeks after the said political rally last year under the speedy trial act. But nothing was heard about the prosecution of the case during the last one year and a half. Perhaps it is not a strange coincidence that the case has been revived at a time when the BNP-led opposition is planning to hold street agitations.
To all intents and purposes, it is a clear case of turning a legal process into a farce. It is a clear case of using various state institutions including the law-enforcement agencies and the legal system to thwart the opposition political parties' constitutional rights to hold their programmes like meetings, processions and rallies. Regrettably, the government by resorting to such means has in effect been corroding the integrity of those state institutions.
We believe the government would shun using highhanded, politically motivated methods to suppress dissenting voice. This is in the interest of protecting democracy and establishing a credible political system.