Hundreds held ahead of two-day blockade |
Police have started mass arrest in the capital and elsewhere in the country ahead of the Awami League (AL)-led grand alliance's countrywide blockade slated for tomorrow and the day after.
AL leaders claimed that more than 1,000 party leaders and activists across the country were arrested yesterday. Many innocent day labourers, drivers, rickshawpullers and passers-by also fell victim to the mass arrest that began Thursday midnight.
The drive followed a meeting between the home secretary and the inspector general of police at the Bangabhaban.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) produced 594 people before the Court of Chief Metropolitan Magistrate yesterday. Usually a little over 100 arrestees are produced before the court a day.
Relatives of many victims alleged police released many others from the spot and police stations after taking bribe. Those who could not bribe them were implicated in different cases.
Meanwhile, several hundred AL loyalists laid a siege to Keraniganj Police Station yesterday protesting mass arrest of their leaders and activists. The five-hour demonstration ended at 2:00pm after police released eight of the arrestees.
DMP Commissioner ABM Bazlur Rahman said the drive is not linked to the blockade. "It is part of a continuous process and we will step it up day by day until January 22 for holding a free and fair election."
He denied that AL or grand alliance leaders and activists are being arrested, saying only those who are criminals and can create trouble in holding a free and fair polls were held.
He said if the situation demands, the police might seek army help during the blockade.
Of the 594 arrestees produced before the court yesterday, 250 were shown arrested in regular cases, 14 under Section 54 of the Criminal Procedure Code and the others under the DMP Act.
After hearing, the court sent the 250 to the Dhaka Central Jail and fixed January 8 for their bail hearing and released 330 others on bail, court sources said.
Several hundred relatives of the mass arrest victims gathered around the CMM's Court yesterday to get them released on bail. Relatives of many of the arrestees were found crying as the breadwinners of their families were held.
When contacted, 18 of the 33 police stations in the capital said they arrested around 450 people till yesterday noon and forwarded them to the CMM's Court. Of them, 68 were arrested by Mohammadpur police, 35 by Pallabi police, 21 by Mirpur police, 38 by Tejgaon police, 25 by Gulshan police, 41 by Sutrapur police and 24 by Motijheel police.
Some of the grand alliance leaders arrested in the capital included Information and Research Secretary of City AL Azizur Rahman Bachchu, Ward- 91 AL unit President Mokbul Hossain, Ward-8 unit AL Publication Secretary Nazrul Islam and Ward-94 Jubo League unit Joint Convener Zakir Hossain.
Besides, police raided houses of a number of AL leaders and activists on Thursday night.
Wife of an arrestee, Zohura Begum, alleged that police beat her up mercilessly when she requested them to release her husband Joynal Ali, a worker of Gulshan AL unit, arrested during a raid at Sattola slum in the area early yesterday.
Zohura, a Jubo Mahila League worker of Gulshan unit, said a police team raided their slum house at 4:20am. "As police arrested my husband, I wanted to know the reason behind. They simply said the reason is he is an AL worker," Zohura told this correspondent on the court premises.
"When I requested them not to arrest my husband, police beat me up and also trampled me," Zohura sobbed showing marks of bruise in one of her hands.
She said her husband was implicated in a bomb blast case.
Police however denied the allegation.
An anxious Rina Begum was wandering around Mirpur Police Station yesterday afternoon as her husband is one of the nine people arrested from Gabtoli bus terminal area yesterday morning.
Claiming that her husband, a driver, is innocent, Rina said police picked him up along with eight other drivers, helpers or motor mechanics on charge of gambling.
A fellow driver, who also rushed to the police station hearing the news, said, as there is no pressure of work after the Eid and due to the cold spell, the victims were gossiping at a place when they were held.
Pallabi police arrested Abdur Rahman Mian, president of Ward-7 AL unit Thursday noon and implicated him in a theft case. Rahman's wife Zarina Begum said her daughter Pinki gave police Tk 1,000 for her father's release but he was sent to court.