AL won't let BNP stage protests

DMP yet to decide on permission for Suhrawardy Udyan rally tomorrow
Asaduzzaman Mia, commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police, on Sunday says that police would not allow Awami League and BNP for holding rallies at the same venue at Suhrawardy Udyan in Dhaka on January 5. Photo: TV grab

The Awami League has instructed its leaders and activists to resist any attempts by BNP men to take to the streets tomorrow to create fresh controversies over the January 5, 2014, parliamentary election.

The instructions came at a joint meeting of the ruling party and its front organisations yesterday, party sources said.

However, party leaders believe that the Dhaka Metropolitan Police will not allow either party to hold rallies at Suhrawardy Udyan, where both the AL and the BNP want to gather.

The DMP is yet to announce its decision.

DMP Commissioner Asaduzzaman Mia has said they would not allow any political party to hold any counter programmes on January 5.

“There's no reason to obstruct peaceful programmes. But if the programmes are conflicting and threaten public safety, we won't allow such programmes,” he told a briefing at the DMP media centre yesterday.

Considering that the DMP might not allow any rally at Suhrawardy Udyan, the BNP yesterday applied to the police for permission to hold a rally in front of its Nayapaltan office. The party also sought permission from the city corporation authorities to use the road in front of the BNP office.

The AL, on the other hand, will hold its rally before its central office on Bangabandhu Avenue if it fails to get permission for gathering at Suhrawardy Udyan.

Amid these developments, city dwellers fear they may witness violence like last year when the BNP took to the streets, after the government barred it from holding a rally marking the first anniversary of the January 5 polls, which the party terms as “democracy killing day.”

The BNP and its ally Jamaat boycotted the election, since it was held under the political government of Sheikh Hasina, and not under a nonparty caretaker administration as the two parties had demanded.

Protesting the government refusal, the BNP and its allies enforced nearly a ceaseless blockade and hartal for the first three months last year. Street violence left at least 95 people dead and about 1,000 others injured, mostly in targeted arson attacks on public transports.  
This time around, some BNP leaders say they would not wage any street agitation if the government refuses to allow the party to hold rallies even at Nayapaltan.

The AL is planning its own programmes to highlight BNP's “destructive activities” of last year. The party will organise a photo exhibition at the Shilpakala Academy from January 5 to 7 to “remind” people of the violent acts of the BNP-Jamaat alliance.  

The BNP for its part is preparing for a “massive rally” on January 5, which party chief Khaleda Zia is likely to address.

Soon after the BNP announced its programmes for tomorrow, the AL declared its own programmes and directed its leaders and workers to occupy the city streets so that the BNP cannot create any unrest.

Publicly, both parties claimed that on December 31 they sought DMP's permission to hold rallies at Suhrawardy Udyan. But AL insiders said they applied only on January 2.  

"We've no problem in holding a rally in front of our party office instead of Suhrawardy Udyan on January 5,” BNP Joint Secretary General Ruhul Kabir Rizvi told a press briefing at the Nayapaltan office yesterday.

Asked, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal yesterday said the decision to allow the BNP to hold a rally at the Suhrawardy Udyan will be made upon assessment of the security threats.

"If there is a security threat, law enforcement agencies will look into it and take appropriate steps," he said at a programme in the capital.