The scale of the violence that activists of Jamaat-e-Islami and militant cadres of its student wing Shibir unleashed against the police and pedestrians on Tuesday afternoon was extremely worrying. Compared to the pitch of their destructive attacks, the police's role seemed to be rather feeble and withdrawn. In fact, the police were on the defensive and took the beating from the Jamaat-Shibir cadres who were clearly on the offensive.
In consequence, the Jamaat-Shibir men had a field day and they came down like brigands on law-enforcement personnel, unsuspecting commuters and passers-by. They brought traffic at the Farmgate-Karwan bazaar area to a screeching halt and struck terror among the public.
Over the last nine days, since they announced their agitation programme demanding the release of their leaders now facing trial at the International War Crimes Tribunal, their cadres have injured more than 200 policemen and hundreds of common people across the country.
The law-enforcers' laidback attitude has been quite disconcerting and at the same time baffling. It seemed they lacked sufficient will and preparedness to handle the situation.
If in this way police fail to face up to such kind of exigencies, what will remain of law and order and where will the members of the public go for protection?
Moreover, reckless Jamaat-Shibir behaviour may provoke counteraction from the ruling party youth and student cadres, signs of which were visible on Tuesday. This can only make things worse.
The message must be dinned in Jamaat-Shibir ears that they have a right dissent and express their grievances but not to create chaos and panic in public life.
The government, the home ministry in particular, has no reason to take this threat to law and public order lightly. They must take every necessary step to nip this menace to peace and law and order in the bud before it causes more damage.