Restrictions all around
“Is there any outsider in this house?” asked one of them.
It was around 12:45am yesterday at a five-room bachelor mess in Uttara, Dhaka. Mohammad Yeasin, an apparel merchandiser, was preparing for sleep in his room.
Suddenly, he heard somebody banging on the door. As he opened the door, six to seven people walked in, woke up the residents and searched all the rooms.
The plainclothes officers carrying pistols and handcuffs ordered Yeasin and others not to allow any outsider in the house for the next two to three days. Then they left in a police van, a car and two bikes.
Similar incidents took place in some other bachelor messes and also residential areas like Japan Garden City in Mohammadpur, sending waves of panic across the city.
Ultra-conscious and over-enthusiastic, police have stepped up their vigil for the last couple of days, saying they are working to prevent subversive activities centring the March 12 rally of BNP.
The opposition called the rally to press home their demand for the caretaker government system.
Yesterday morning, Yeasin said, all the boarders gave names, professional details and mobile phone numbers to the house owner who needed those for submitting to Uttara Police Station.
“It was quite scary… the way the men searched and inquired us,” he told The Daily Star. “Where will we go if we cannot be in peace even in our rooms?”
The situation in many city hotels is also not that different. Police are issuing threats to conduct sudden raids if their instructions are not followed. The hoteliers are not taking any new boarder; some even put on notice that reads, “No room available”.
Police have orders to arrest suspected strangers from messes, hotels, residential buildings in the capital. They have to strictly monitor all the entry points so that no strangers can enter the city.
Around 11:30am on Wednesday, two persons were harassed by police as they arrived at Jatrabari from Comilla.
One of the two, Mohammad Jasim, said law enforcers stopped them at Jatrabari intersection and without explaining the reason asked them to go back to Comilla.
Finally, the duo managed to reach their destination in Old Dhaka after one of their acquaintances talked to police over the phone.
Around 10:30pm on Thursday, a team of six police men came to Japan Garden City, said a resident of Building No 11 at the housing project, wishing not to be named.
They asked all the security guards to convey a message to the residents not to allow any “guests, especially males” till March 13. If any guest arrives, nearby Adabor Police Station must know it.
A similar instruction was passed to city hotels, pushing many to closure till March 12.
Yesterday, a notice was found at the gate of Hotel Midway International in the city's Paltan. It reads, “Due to unavoidable reason, the hotel will remain closed till March 12.”
Some hoteliers told The Daily Star that they were asked not to receive any guest until the opposition's March 12 programme passes off.
“Because the boarders might carry arms,” said a hotel manager at Farmgate, preferring anonymity.
A Naya Paltan hotel staff said they were refusing guests, saying the intelligence officials might raid any time looking for opposition leaders and activists.
As a correspondent of The Daily Star approached a hotel in Rampura area to be a boarder, the manager said, “Please don't stay in a hotel, not even in a mess with friends. Try to stay at your relative's for the sake of your own security.”