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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