Vol. 5 Num 1112 Tue. July 17, 2007  
Front Page

Most people decry arrest

The majority of people The Daily Star talked to yesterday about Sheikh Hasina's arrest, expressed deep resentment over the government's move while a few termed the arrest as a significant step taken by it.

Following the arrest The Daily Star correspondents talked to around 100 people who are university teachers, physicians, government employees, small traders, students, rickshaw pullers, cab drivers and other professionals.

Many of them termed the government's move as unwanted, saying it will not bring anything positive for the country, instead it might lead to a loss of support for the current government and might even hamper the process of restoring democracy. Some even commented that Sheikh Hasina's arrest was a move to expel a popular leader from politics which might push the country towards violence again.

Many of the people The Daily Star correspondents talked to, reacted by saying that the current military backed caretaker government will end up losing its popularity. Some said on what charges she was arrested is not clear while many others declined to make any comment.

Prof Anwar Hossain, general secretary of Dhaka University Teachers' Association (Duta) termed the arrest as unwanted and farcical, adding that it will hamper the country's democratic process.

A tense situation has been created by arresting Hasina, which might hamper holding of a free, fair and neutral election, Prof Anwar said.

Duta's former president Prof AAMS Arefin Siddique said the arrest of former prime minister Sheikh Hasina is against the rule of law as she was not given a recourse to the law.

"Hasina's arrest is not a mere arrest of a person; this is an arrest of a democratic voice because during the ongoing state of emergency she has been talking in favour of the people," he said.

Duta President Prof Sadrul Amin declined to comment on the issue.

Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at Dhaka University Prof Harun-Or-Rashid said Sheikh Hasina's arrest in connection with so-called extortions and violent political incidents will make the people angry and concerned.

Pro-AL teachers' Blue Panel Convener Prof Hossain Monsur said, "The arrest of Bangabandhu's daughter Sheikh Hasina means an attempt to destroy democracy."

Our Rajshahi correspondent reported that prominent writer Hasan Azizul Haque yesterday termed the arrest of AL chief Sheikh Hasina as a 'misfortune of the nation' saying that establishment of democracy will be delayed due to the government move.

"There is no fortune for the nation in her arrest. It will create confusion among the people," Prof Hasan, a retired philosophy teacher of Rajshahi University (RU), told a group of newsmen.

Besides, 131 RU teachers in a joint statement expressed their concern over the arrest and demanded Hasina's release.

The signatories include professors -- Abdus Sobhan, Mohammad Nurullah, Ananda Kumar Saha, Mahbubur Rahman, Fayekuzzaman, Moloy Bhoumik, Sujit Sarker, Dr Mizan Uddin, Mozaffar Hossain, Entajul Haque, SM Abu Bakar, Jalal Uddin, Shamsuddin Illias, Golam Kabir, Sayed Shamsuddin Ahmed, and Abul Kashem.

"We are deeply concerned and worried over her arrest at a time when religious fundamentalists are out to jeopardize the country's sovereignty," said the statement.

They urged the government to uphold the law of the land and human rights.

"Hasina's arrest was predictable. It is a sign that the current government is in an unstable state," said an expert physician adding that the situation seems very uncertain.

Akhter Hossain, a small trader who runs a mobile telephone shop at Uttara in the capital, did not hear the news of Hasina's arrest until late morning yesterday. Coming to know about it around 10:30am he was shocked and turned up the volume of his radio to hear more about it.

"A bloodbath could have taken place following the arrest, but as an army backed caretaker government is ruling the country and a state of emergency is still on, the possibility of such violence is little," he said.

Some people said it is very difficult to say nowadays where the country is heading.

"Now it is not possible to say whether the country is going forward towards better days or it is destined to drown. Either the country will move forward or it will become a puppet government like the one in Afghanistan, and a group of people will fish in the murky waters," said a shop owner in Karwan Bazar in the capital.

Hearing the news of Hasina's arrest rickshaw puller Pradip Karmakar said, "We don't think much about such things as our situation remains the same always."

Jamal Uddin, a trader on Elephant Road in the capital said, "It seems that the government has come to power only to arrest high profile leaders."

"Arresting high profile leaders like Hasina is not the main duty of the government", he said adding, it is not helpful for democracy. "Jamaat and extremist elements are getting indulgent!" he said.

Some people however said they are experiencing relative peace during the current regime and with the arrest of Hasina the government proved that no one is above the law.

Shafiqul Islam, an official of a non-governmental organisation, said the legal system speaks about equality for all and if the allegation of any crime against Hasina is proven, she must be punished.

"We witnessed widespread corruption by our leaders during successive regimes while both the party chiefs were tight-lipped regarding the matter," said Shahinur Rahman, a banker.

When the people of the country were struggling to ensure a meal a day, political leaders made money through corruption, he said.

An employee of Petrobangla said the situation is much better now during the present government's regime.

"We, the common people want peace that we didn't get during the regimes of BNP and AL governments," he said.

Meanwhile reports received from several places said the police obstructed processions protesting the arrest of Sheikh Hasina at many places but they did not take any action when some people expressed their joy in public and distributed sweets on streets following the arrest.

Sweets were distributed in Rajshahi and Mymenshingh celebrating Sheikh Hasina's arrest, our correspondents reported.

Our Rajshahi correspondent reported that three Rajshahi City Corporation (RCC) employees Rafique, Sadek and Abbas distributed three packets of sweets around 11.30pm in front of the office of deputy inspector general of Rajshahi Divisional Police at Bheripara in the city.

The three were distributing sweets telling people that those were gifts from a local ward commissioner on the occasion of Hasina's arrest, said a shopkeeper.

Rafique, Sadek and Abbas told reporters present at the scene that Abul Hashim, commissioner of ward no 5 of RCC had employed them to distribute the sweets.

When contacted, Hashim denied employing anyone to distribute sweets.

Our Mymensingh correspondent reported that a group of people distributed sweets at Station Road, Kirtipur and Purahit Para of the town giving rise to a mixed reaction among the people.

Kotwali police however said they knew nothing about the sweet distribution following Hasina's arrest.