With about three and a half months left before the parliamentary election, BNP leaders say their activists and supporters are in growing fear of arrests as new cases have been filed against many of their men and unnamed people, as per local media reports.
More than 1 lakh people, mainly BNP activists, have been made accused in 1,200 cases filed across the country in the last 20 days, claimed party leaders. Besides, around 2,000 BNP men were arrested on various charges during the period as law enforcers went tough on them on instruction from top officials of the government and the police, they added.
Police sources are reported to have stated that the field-level officials have been asked to arrest BNP leaders and activists who are facing warrants and who may create anarchy in the coming days centring the election. Inspector General of Police Mohammad Javed Patwary, however, said on Saturday that the arrests of the party men have nothing to do with the election.
The BNP high-ups say such cases were filed to harass the party activists and supporters so that they cannot get organised ahead of the national elections slated to be held in late December. Party leaders alleged the crackdown became more severe seeing the participation of BNP leaders and activists on the September 1 rally marking the founding anniversary of the party. Party leaders have been compiling data of fresh arrests and cases and will make it public today through a press conference.
Omnibus arrest of BNP leaders and workers all over the country just before the election will certainly be described by BNP as oppression to create fear not to engage in election campaigning for their party. But our concerns are different. Firstly, such arrests obviously on false and fabricated cases cannot be defended under the rule of law or the Constitution being violative of the fundamental right to liberty. To allow police to be used in violating the law and the Constitution should be noxious to all who are anxious to preserve the good image of the police strictly as law enforcers unbiased by party politics.
It is normal for political parties to be controversial but nothing could be more harmful for police to be involved in political controversies. Another reason why we feel very disturbed is the question of peace and order in election time. Massive abuse of police power annoys not only the victims but also the general public of the locality.
No sensible person would like to see a good and disciplined police force to lose public trust and not to be seen as friends of the people because they were politically abused by party in power.
It is not important to us which parties will ultimately take part in the election and which not. But in the greater interest of the country public trust in police is very important. In politics the government changes but the police will remain. So police cannot closely identify with one party or another. But as the law enforcers police cannot have and should not have any allegiance to party politics either of the government or the opposition. Police are of the people and must remain for the people.