Break law, get punished | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 19, 2009 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, February 19, 2009

Break law, get punished

PM warns 'students and others' over violence, extortion at BCL's reunion rally; blames a section of media for criticising govt too early

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday warned 'students and others' of stern punitive actions, if they break the law, and get involved in violence and extortion.
"I want to make one thing clear, if any student or anybody else break the law and get involved in any internal conflict, violence, and extortion, the individual will be arrested right away and punished," Hasina, who is also the president of Awami League, said at a reunion rally of Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL), the student wing of her party.
She however promptly added, if any other organisation tries to take advantage of BCL's self control on her command, that also will not be tolerated. "I want to make that clear too," she did not leave any room for confusion.
"The trouble makers will be dealt with total expulsion from the organisation," she seemed to be warning her own student activists.
The prime minister's stern warnings came on the heels of media reports about quite a robust return of violence on campuses of educational institutions all over the country, a large number of which were either initiated by BCL or happened among its own factions.
The reunion rally was held at the historic Paltan Maidan in the capital on the occasion of the 61st founding anniversary of BCL.
The programme itself also could not escape sporadic clashes among different units of BCL, over who will get what spot at the venue, leaving around 20 injured, while chairs were flying in the air.
The clashes however got ample time to die down as Hasina, also the organisational leader of BCL, reached the venue late, at 12:50pm, although she had been scheduled to be there at 11:00am.
The area of the stage where she sat was surrounded by bulletproof glass, and the same was the case with the lectern from where she delivered her speech.
The prime minister opened the event by hoisting the national and her party flags, followed by releasing of balloons and white pigeons into the air.
BCL President Mahmud Hasan Ripon, and General Secretary Mahfuzul Haider Chowdhury Roton also spoke at the event attended by many former BCL presidents and general secretaries, senior AL leaders, and ministers, along with a large number of current BCL activists.
The prime minister also embarked on a tirade against the media saying a section of it has started criticising the AL-led coalition government too soon, as it assumed power only 37 to 38 days ago, adding they are raising a raucous even for minor infractions.
She said the media should compare neutrally and honestly the present situation with the post-election situation in 2001. After the 2001 election, she alleged, the winning BNP-Jamaat alliance carried out killings, grabbed lands, and occupied student dorms.
During the last AL rule, one journalist was harassed, whereas 14 journalists were killed during the BNP-led four-party alliance regime, she compared.
"Their pens were not as sharp back then, as they are now," she complained adding, "Why this discrimination I don't understand."
"I don't have an Aladin's lamp," she went on, "Don't think we don't know at all the reason for the discrimination! In fact they are taking out on us, their own frustrations of failing to implement the minus two formula."
She said her ruling coalition will keep on working for the nation and for the wellbeing of the people, not for the interest of any individual.
Referring to media reports that BCL does not listen to her instructions, she said if Chhatra League did not listen to her instructions, then BNP's student wing Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal would not be able to celebrate its founding anniversary in Dhaka University's Modhu's Canteen by cutting a cake just two days after the general election.
She said there was no freedom of expression and no democracy in the country during the emergency caretaker rule of the last two years.
As AL came to power through 'a movement and the December 29, 2008 parliamentary election', the people are now free and independent, she claimed.
She also said, "Freedom is not a license…everyone must respect the law."
She blamed BNP-Jamaat's last five-year tenure for the spread of terrorism, thuggery, corruption, and extortion.
She said the immediate past caretaker government tried to clear some of the mess at its nascent stage, but did not succeed because it got too busy with its 'minus-two formula'.
She however mentioned of a flawless voter list and a fair election, as successes of the caretaker government.
The prime minister said there are some people who always want to join the ruling party, adding, "But I don't want to give any chance to those opportunists, as they will make trouble after joining…we can't take responsibility of the actions of those elements. We don't need any new force, as we have the people's mandate."
She urged her student followers to prepare themselves as worthy citizens, acquiring knowledge through scientific education, which she said are prerequisites for building up a digital Bangladesh by 2021, pledged by their party Awami League.
Hasina also announced that the national conference of BCL will be held soon, where genuine students will become future leaders of the student organisation through an election.

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