Tuesday 22nd Jan 2019
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Combined Police Operation at Night Can’t be Defended

Cover Story

The New Nation, a national daily of Bangladesh, comments on the massacre of the protestors belonging to the Hefazat-e-Islam Movement:


“Leaders of the Hefazat-e-Islam and government ministers are giving contradictory accounts on casualties in combined operation of police and paramilitary forces by which the May 5 night sit-in of the former was dismantled and the media, both national and international, are publishing different accounts of the same. The people are in great despair as they are yet to figure out what actually happened in the darkness of that fateful night and how many people lost their lives. 

“Only thing they noticed was a huge crowd of an estimated two lakh people staging a sit-in in the evening to be completely cleared in the morning with municipal sweepers washing the roads with water supplied by water tankers of the Dhaka City corporation, the Dhaka WASA and the Fire Service under heavy armed police guard.

“Wild speculations about the casualties caused in the operation and eyewitness accounts from those people who saw the same from different buildings in the Motijheel Commercial Area the members of the combined force in action, join to piece together a picture that can only continue to create greater horror in the minds of the people. But there would have been no scope for either the speculations about casualties or the retaliatory actions if the operation was not carried out in the darkness of night. The government could have clamped 144 earlier in the evening. Such a declaration necessary for maintaining law and order should have been made by the Metropolitan Police Commissioner instead of the Secretary General of the Awami League making it a political challenge.

“If the aim of the operation was to uphold law and order, it has definitely not been met. Disturbances that have followed appear to be more fierce and have continued in different parts of the country during the past two days. It seems the people appear not ready to buy stories that the Hefazat-e-Islam workers, who came from different Quami Madrasahs all over the country, some of them carrying sticks, others empty handed to voice their demands - restoration of faith in Almighty Allah in the Constitution and capital punishment of the blasphemous bloggers members - could create so much loss and havoc in Dhaka. Obviously there was infiltration of dangerous elements with dangerous equipment. If the intelligence agencies were sure, adequate tough action could have been taken earlier. 

“Despite claims to the contrary the Quami Madrasah teachers and students, who made the huge audience of an estimated two million heads during the Dhaka Siege that day, are not affiliated to any political party. These people fighting for what they believe to be a sacred cause also cannot set fire to the holy Qur’ān and other books. This might have been the acts of sabotage of their cause by infiltrators. Pictures that had been published in the print and the electronic media show that some of the ill-fated Hefazat supporters were fatally hit in sleep in their make-shift beds.

“Observers believe that the government had not been properly advised on how to deal with a defiant but unarmed group of religious people who vowed to continue their sit-in till their demands were met. Neither television footages nor still photographs have shown them carrying anything other than sticks. Their actions remained restricted to throwing of brickbats or hitting with sticks when they came under attack.

“The awesome mistake by the government again exposed incompetence of the political leadership in the government. There would have been every justification to take tough measures to clear the massive gathering before the night. But the massive armed police operation in the darkness of night on a gathering of thousands of visibly unarmed people in Motijheel area was bound to lead to dangerous consequences. If political leaders do not know when and how to use government’s fire power on masses, then they cannot take credit as political leaders. This operation because of its wrong handling will not be helpful for the government in maintaining law and order. Future events will surely confirm our fears.”


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