Khaleda's government arrests 10,000 in 7 days to thwart Awami League program

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Published on January 4, 2023
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BNP-Jamaat leaders started looting, extorting and repressing across the country soon after they formed the government in October 2001. Their mass anomalies badly affected the country’s economy. In a bid to foil the protests against their corruption and misdeeds, the BNP-Jamaat government ran crackdowns, arrested at least 10,000 Awami League leaders and activists across the country and deployed police with barricades in front of the AL’s central office. Nobody, from ordinary people to job seekers, small traders and floating people, could spare their wrath.

The Prothom Alo on April 2, 2004, reported that Khaleda Zia deployed police and BGB in the entire Dhaka city to thwart protests against the terrorism and corruption of Tarique Rahman in front of Hawa Bhaban. They also put barricades with barbed wires in front of the Awami League office on Bangabandhu Avenue and swooped on processions and rallies of Awami League leaders and activists in different parts of the capital. Police arrested 70 Awami League leaders and activists and harassed ordinary people, businessmen, and office-goers under an undeclared curfew in Dhaka city.

While the ordinary Dhaka dwellers were undergoing immense harassment by BNP terrorists and police and confined in homes, Tarique Rahman celebrated the sufferings by playing cricket in Hawa Bhaban with protection from security forces. Police, under the instruction of Tarique, ransacked the residences of senior Awami League leaders in name of search and brutally beat 62 women activists in public and sent them to court.

According to a report published by Prothom Alo on April 23, the BNP-Jamaat coalition government would arrest nearly a thousand people every day on average, and torture ordinary passengers in bus and launch terminals. Court sources said, most of the people shown arrest under Section 54 and kept in congested prison cells were ordinary daily workers and helpless people. Police also attacked, charged batons and arrested senior Awami League and women leaders to halt the protest programs against corruption and anomalies of the BNP-Jamaat government.

On April 24, Prothom Alo reported that the government detained more than 7,000 people in five days. Most of them were innocent people, coming to the capital for job exams, running makeshift tea stalls or meeting relatives. Finding no whereabouts, relatives thronged the court premises. They conducted the crackdown in almost every district, including Rajshahi, Barisal, Meherpur, Khulna, Sylhet, Shariatpur, Kishoreganj, Jessore and Bagerhat. They spared nobody from Awami League leaders and activists to private job holders and day laborers to create a reign of terror and panic across the country.

On April 25, Prothom Alo reported that the government broke all records of mass arrest to suppress anti-government movements using Article 54 as a political tool and grossly violating human rights and the rule of law. As a result, the central prisons were overcrowded with six times more prisoners than their capacity. The innocent people, after serving a few days in prison, told journalists that pedestrians, commuters, businessmen, students and women all became victims of mass arrests. Thousands of Awami League leaders were picked up from home and shown arrested under Section 54 every week in different districts and upazilas.