BNP cautious of its footing
The BNP top brass has decided not to go for any tougher action like hartal or blockade for now as they believe the government is intent on provoking violence on the street, which is a trap the opposition party should not walk into.
Party leaders said they will stage peaceful demonstrations like rallies and processions even after four of their leaders and activists were killed during their countrywide protests.
Besides, they will fight legal battles over incidents of killings in police attacks and torture in police custody by filing cases through "legal cells" formed centrally and in districts.
"Although four of our leaders and activists were killed, we will not leave the streets. As a democratic party, we will continue to wage our peaceful and systematic movement," Iqbal Hasan Mahmud Tuku, BNP standing committee member, told The Daily Star yesterday.
Party leaders and activists are ready to face any situation on the street and put up resistance if they are attacked, he also said. "Time will say what should be the course of action, but for now we will continue our ongoing programmes."
Sources say the party right now does not have any plan for tougher programmes like hartal or blockade.
As part of its legal battle, the party has filed a case in Bhola over the killings of two of its local leaders in a police shooting. It also moved the court for filing cases in Narayanganj and Dhaka but the court rejected the prayer.
BNP leaders said they will continue their attempts to file cases as an attempt to keep pressure on the police.
"We will continue our efforts to get justice. It is unacceptable that police and Awami League men will kill a citizen and there will be no justice. We will go to the highest court seeking remedy," said Masud Ahmed Talukdar, senior joint convener of the BNP's central legal cell.
Party leaders say since the nationwide protests started on August 22, their rallies came under attacks in different places but they could not fight back.
"The failure to launch counter-attacks has two negative impacts -- it demoralises the activists and also sends out a message that the party does not have the organisational strength to wage movement," a senior leader said.
Before the beginning of the nationwide programmes, the grassroots were instructed to stay alert to any attack and not to get locked into clashes with police as it can be a trap set by the government.
Reportedly, there were reassurances from the top level of the government that the programmes would not be obstructed.
But violent attacks by the ruling party activists on the BNP events kept making headlines while the opposition leaders and activists faced arrests. Four BNP men got killed and scores injured.
On September 17, BNP's senior leaders, including Standing Committee Member Selima Rahman, Vice Chairman Barkat Ullah Bulu and Executive Committee Member Tabith Awal, came under attack in Banani.
After this particular incident, most of the central leaders took a stance in favour of counter-attacks to keep the morale of activists up. The protest programmes held in Mohakhali, Mirpur, Khilgaon and some other places saw leaders and activists swarming the meeting venues with bamboo sticks and pipes.
On Wednesday, clashes between police and BNP activists in Munshiganj left a Jubo Dal leader dead.
The same day, speaking at a rally in the capital, the party's standing committee member, Gayeshwar Chandra Roy, called upon party leaders and workers to keep their spirits high to initiate an all-out movement in the days to come.
Insiders, however, said the party wants to take cautious steps keeping in mind the huge criticism it faced for arson attacks and violence ahead of the January 2014 election.
This time the party wants to focus on exposing how "repressive" the government is and waging a movement to materialise its demand for a free and fair election under a non-partisan neutral administration.