Security stepped up amid fears of violence in B`desh
Last Updated: Saturday, June 26, 2010, 20:39
  
Dhaka: Security has been beefed up in the Bangladeshi capital on Saturday ahead of the anti-government general strike called by the main opposition BNP, amid fears of violence as the supporters of the ruling Awami League plan to thwart the day-long shutdown on Sunday.

Bangladesh Nationalist Party has announced a nationwide anti-government general strike on Sunday to oppose the ruling coalition's policies, including "compromising national interests" by inking deals with India earlier this year.

Former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, the chief of the BNP, announced the anti-government campaign on May 19 for "compromising national interests by signing deals with India during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s New Delhi tour in January, oppose "tender-grabbing and extortions by government cronies and deteriorating utility services in the country.

The authorities and the supporters of the Awami League have said they were determined to crackdown on those creating "anarchy and disorder" in the country.

Dhaka metropolitan police has banned processions on the main roads in the capital and stepped up security to prevent any violence.

Dhaka’s police chief AKM Shahidul Haque told mediapersons that an additional 10,000 force will be deployed in the capital to maintain order.

He said police would not prevent the BNP from its planned strike, but actions would be taken if they try to create anarchy by vandalising vehicles or setting those on fire.

Pro-government Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) today announced that it would thwart the dawn-to-dusk general strike of BNP, triggering fears of violent clashes.

"So BCL will be on the field to prevent the strike by any means," Mahmud Hasan Ripon, the BCL president, was quoted as saying by the bdnews24 online.

He expressed fears that the radical Islamist groups, including 'Jamaat-Shibir' could take advantage of the strike to create chaos in a bid to halt the trial of the war criminals accused of genocide during the 1971 'Liberation War'.

He asked the leaders and activists of BCL to stay on the alert on Sunday.

Law Minister Qamrul Islam told reporters yesterday that the government had no plans to confront the protesters, but warned: "We will not tolerate anarchy or disorder during the hartal".

BNP chief Zia has warned the government against creating any obstruction during the countrywide shutdown.

"The government will have to bear the responsibility of the consequences if it tries to obstruct our peaceful programme," she warned.

BNP secretary general Delwar Hossain alleged on Sunday that the government had been arresting and harassing BNP leaders and activists across the country to disrupt the strike.

BNP-led four party alliance, including the Islamist Jammat have already declared their support to the strike.

During Hasina's New Delhi visit, Bangladesh and India signed three agreements to jointly combat the terror menace while New Delhi announced a one-billion dollar line of credit to Dhaka.

India decided to give 250MW of power to Bangladesh from the central grid while they signed a power-sharing agreement. Bangladesh also promised not to allow its territory to be used for terror against India.

Political parties have frequently resorted to shutdowns and general strikes in Bangladesh to pressure the government, often leading to violence, political deadlock and seriously crippling its economy.

An earlier UNDP report calculated that the net loss in one day's shutdown to around Taka 500 crore while it cost the country 3 to 4 percent of its GDP on an average every year between 1991 and 2000.

PTI


First Published: Saturday, June 26, 2010, 20:39


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