Bangladesh launches crackdown against opposition, arrests seven

Eurasia News

DHAKA: Seven opposition members including a well-known lawyer and adviser to the Bangladesh opposition leader Khaleda Zia were arrested after police conducted raids in various parts of the capital Dhaka on Tuesday.

Police detained the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) leader Khaleda Zia’s adviser Khandaker Muhbub Hossain outside the National Press Club in Dhaka where he had attended a roundtable discussion that was critical of the government.

A lawmaker belonging to the BNP Nazimuddin Alam and another official Fazlul Huq were also picked up by the police in a crackdown in Baridhara area of Dhaka.

Likewise, four more opposition activists were detained from various parts of Dhaka but were released later.

The arrests came a day after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina whose ruling Awami League won 232 of the 300 elected seats and claimed a landslide win in Sunday’s elections which were marred by the opposition parties’ boycott and violence, said that her first priority is to contain the violence with an iron hand.

In a statement, Hasina said that her government’s first job is to save lives and properties of people, maintain peace and stability and prevent post-election violence at any cost.

On the other hand, the BNP leader Khaleda Zia, who has been confined to her house in Dhaka for about two weeks, reiterated her calls for Sheikh Hasina to stand aside and let a neutral caretaker government organize the new election.

The BNP leader in a statement released overnight Monday said that she called on the government to cancel the farcical elections, step down and reach an understanding with the opposition to organise a free, fair and neutral election under a non-party government.

Zia further said that the scandalous election on January 5 not only demonstrated the people’s lack of confidence in the government but also proved that free, fair, credible, peaceful and participatory elections cannot be held without a non-party neutral government and credible election commission.

The BNP along with 20 other opposition parties has enforced a 48-hour general strike since Monday to force the government to cancel the polls.