No fewer than 200 policemen were injured across the country in the last nine days of violent demonstrations by Jamaat-Shibir men. Interestingly, the law enforcers were apparently the target of “planned attacks” that also left at least 300 people injured.
A former police chief thinks the attacks on the law enforcers might have been carried out to demoralise them and disrupt law and order. Two eminent citizens, however, consider the attacks as a manifestation of fear in the Jamaat-e-Islami and its associated body Islami Chhatra Shibir, and their desperate bid to foil the ongoing war crimes trial.
"The reason behind targeting policemen [in the attacks] might have been to undermine their spirit," former inspector general of police ASM Shahjahan told The Daily Star.
He said the attacks were probably carried out to obstruct law and order and to push the war crimes trial off course.
"But whatever the reason might be, it is a must for the government to take necessary action against those who are involved," he added.
War crimes researcher Shahriar Kabir considers the attacks as Jamaat's desperation, saying that the party needs a few dead bodies so that it can claim “there is no democracy in the country”.
"This is why they are attacking police to force them to retaliate [on Jamaat-Shibir] with fire and injure at least one," he said, adding, "It's their old strategy."
He also labelled the attacks as “pre-planned” whereas the government considers them as stray incidents.
Shahriar, executive president of Ekatturer Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee, said the countrywide brutal activities of the Jamaat “prove its efforts to push the country towards a civil war”.
The more the war crimes trial is approaching its final stages, the more the Jamaat is becoming desperate to foil it, he observed, and added that once the trial was completed properly and the accused punished, it would not be able to continue politics. "It is their life and death problem.”
The government has no alternative but to ban the Jamaat as “it does not accept Bangladesh's constitution and its existence," he said.
Besides, Shahriar said, the politics of the Jamaat could also be banned by trying its leaders on charges of their involvement in genocide, murder, rape, and arson during the Liberation War of 1971.
Human rights activist Sultana Kamal thinks the Jamaat has gone violent as the trial is nearly at an end.
However, the attacks did not come to her as a surprise. A former advisor to a caretaker government, Sultana Kamal recalled the way the intellectuals of the country were killed at the fag end of the Liberation War. These new attacks, though not done in that large scale, were carried out to cause frustration among people.
She said the attacks were made also to baffle the war crimes trial or change its present course.
"Their [Jamaat-Shibir men] activity is not merely an anti-government one, rather it should be considered as a serious affair," Sultana said. “If they continue to carry on with such activities, they will take Bangladesh to a place where there will be no secularism, non-communalism, human rights and women's rights.”
Sultana, who is executive director of the rights body Ain o Salish Kendra, asked secular and progressive people to raise their voices in a bid to show their resistance against such activities. “It is not the time when the good people should keep silent.”
She also suggested that the government take the people on its side. "There are many allies of the government in citizens' groups. And so the government should make its effort to resist the Jamaat-Shibir with the people's support.”