Published: Thursday, March 7, 2013

Govt acted with great restraint

Ashraf says AL won't give in to instigation for another 1/11

The ruling Awami League will not allow anyone to recreate a 1/11 like situation and instigate a civil war in the country, AL General Secretary Syed Ashraful Islam said yesterday.
One-eleven is referred to the taking over of power by an army-backed caretaker government amid political turmoil in the country on January 11, 2007.
Many quarters were provoking the ruling party to take to the streets following the recent countrywide violence, Ashraful said. Their aim was to push the country towards a civil war but efforts to dismantle the democratic government system would not succeed, he added.
Ashraful was speaking at a press conference at Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s political office in Dhanmondi in the capital.
Since a war crimes tribunal sentenced Jamaat-e-Islami leader Delawar Hossain Sayedee to death on February 28 on charges of arson, rape, killing and forced conversions, the Jamaat has unleashed a reign of terror across the country. As many as 72 people, including six policemen, have so far been killed in the violence.
The government acted with restraint and patience to prevent casualties. “But considering this as our weakness will be a mistake,” the AL leader warned.
Asked whether the government was contemplating army deployment on demands from local administrations, Ashraful, LGRD and cooperatives minister, said the government was maintaining law and order, using all the law enforcement agencies and if necessary it might involve others.
“We are not ruling out or ruling in anything.”
Ashraful also pointed out that the home minister had said that no such situation had arisen in Bangladesh which required a deployment of the army.
Asked whether the government was considering banning Jamaat in the wake of the mayhem, he said trying war criminals and executing the verdicts against them were the government’s only agenda now.
“No power and threats will be able to obstruct the trial.”
Criticising BNP Chairperson and leader of the opposition Khaleda Zia for what Ashraful said calling for war in her address to the nation after she returned from Singapore on March 1, he said Khaleda had directed BNP-Jamaat men to kill police, resort to violence, set temples and mosques afire and kill imams.
The BNP and its ally Jamaat in the 18-party opposition even planned to kill eminent religious scholars to instigate communal riots in the country, he added.
On Khaleda’s cancelling a meeting with Indian President Pranab Mukharjee, he said, “The Indian President was not undermined by it. Rather we, Bangladesh, have undermined ourselves.”  There would be long-term implications for Bangladesh owing to such an act, the LGRD minister said.
About the BNP’s demand for a caretaker government to oversee the next parliamentary elections, he said the demand was not realistic. “They know that it [caretaker government system] won’t be implemented in Bangladesh ever again.”
ABOUT SHAHBAGH
Terming the Shahbagh youths as the “greatest grand unity” since the Liberation War in 1971, Ashraful claimed attempts were being made to kill the main organisers of the Shahbagh movement, which enters its 29th day today calling for capital punishment for all war criminals.
Expressing concern, he said one of the activists of the movement, blogger Ahmed Rajib Haidar, had been killed and so there were possibilities of attacks being carried out on other organisers and people who were participating in the movement.
Five students of North South University in Dhaka had been arrested in connection with the murder of Rajib. Police sources said they had committed the murder on instructions from a senior ‘brother’ who is an activist of the Islami Chhatra Shibir associated with the Jamaat-e-Islami.
Ashraful said the government was trying to ensure that no untoward incident took place in Shahbagh and urged the media to help the government by providing information.