Vol. 4 Num 323 Mon. April 26, 2004  
Front Page

No bail for detainees before April 30
Over 2,500 more arrested

Over 2,500 people were detained across the country yesterday as law-enforcers continued their arresting spree following government directives to intensify the ongoing police drive against Awami League (AL) and NGO workers.

Sources said all district administrations were instructed to ensure that the detainees do not get bail before expiry of the AL's April 30 deadline to unseat the government.

Side by side with the weeklong blanket arrests in Dhaka, police in all districts are also arresting people, mostly young men, from Dhaka-bound passenger buses, trains and launches.

During a 24-hour period ending yesterday evening, police picked up 1206 people from Dhaka, 250 from Barisal, 392 from Rajshahi, 250 from Chittagong city, 74 from Mymensingh, 54 from Jhenidah, 19 from Sylhet and over 300 from Khulna.

Police sources said nearly 15,000 people were picked from areas under 22 police stations in the capital alone since the drive began on the night of April 18. Of them, 7785 were arrested till yesterday and the rest were released.

Police control room yesterday said over 7000 people were arrested in Dhaka since April 19, although police headquarters (HQ) said the number was 4413.

"The arrests were made upon intelligence reports that some people might try to sneak into the capital to carry out subversive activities," said Golam Rasul, deputy commissioner (North), during a press conference at police HQ yesterday.

A police HQ spokesman said there were no specific charges against the arrestees, but they were apprehended for failing to give satisfactory answers about their reasons for coming to Dhaka or where they were going.

Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police (Administration) Abdul Mannan, DIG (Dhaka Range) Khoda Box Chowdhury and DIGs of Special Branch and Criminal Investigation Department were present during the press briefing.

There have been widespread allegations of police taking bribes for the release of detainees, thousands of whom have been picked up indiscriminately over the past week or so.

Some of the victims also alleged of being robbed by police after arrest.

Meanwhile, business is dull in the transport sector and Dhaka's hotels and restaurants as the number of visitors to the capital fell sharply in the wake of the mindless arrests.

"Our income has fallen drastically after the police crackdown began last week," said Abdur Rashid, a hotelier of Old Dhaka.

Dhaka Central Jail began sending prisoners to jails in nearby districts to ease off pressure on it, jail sources said.

They said authorities shifted 151 prisoners to Narayanganj and Kashimpur jails on Saturday night.

"It's not a significant number to ease off pressure. The release of prisoners on bail is lessening the pressure a bit," a jail official said, seeking anonymity.

Some 1,100 prisoners were released on bail on Saturday.

Usually over 10,000 prisoners are kept in the central jail, but for the last few days the number went up to 13,000.

Our staff correspondent from Khulna reports: Leaders of the AL and its front organisations went into hiding following arrests of some district and upazila unit leaders of Jubo League and Bangladesh Chhatra League on Saturday.

Photo shows detainees filing into a court hajat after their arrest yesterday as part of an ongoing police drive against opposition activists. Nearly 15,000 people have reportedly been detained since April 18. PHOTO: STAR