Oct 28 Rallies: Cops all geared up, AL men too
Police might give the BNP permission to hold the grand rally at its desired Nayapaltan venue at the last moment, but opposition activists will not be allowed anywhere else on the streets.
From the evening today, the ruling Awami League activists will take position at the entrances to the capital. They will also be on the streets to make sure the BNP activists cannot spread across the city or engage in violence, said insiders.
The ruling party will hold its rally next to the south gate of Baitul Mukarram mosque tomorrow as police are likely to give permission for the event too.
The law enforcers will be carrying firearms and sound grenades while water cannons will be ready, officials said, adding that police will use drones and security cameras to watch the mass gatherings.
Besides, police officers were also asked to be vigilant and use bullet-proof vests while working at certain places, said sources.
Another major concern for the AL and police is Jamaat's announcement that it would hold a rally at Shapla Chattar in Motijheel on Saturday.
Police sources said they would not let Jamaat supporters gather there, especially since the BNP is set to hold its rally at the time.
Shapla Chattar will be treated as a Key Point Installation and police provide security accordingly, officials said.
A key point installation is a place declared by the home ministry as crucial for the security of the country and the economy.
AL leaders from different city units said they were asked to be fully ready to dominate the field. "The AL cadres will not be out on the streets empty handed. They will be prepared to defend themselves and retaliate against attacks," said a leader.
Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader yesterday claimed that the BNP was openly threatening with violence.
"If our peace rally is attacked, our leaders and activists will not sit idle. The Awami League is committed to protecting the lives and property of the people," he said, addressing a press briefing at his office.
"We will not go to BNP's programme to attack them. But if our rally is attacked, we will resist and retaliate," added Quader, also the road transport and bridges minister.
AL leaders say the BNP rally will be attended by Jamaat men, whose sole purpose will be to cause violence.
On July 25, Obaidul Quader said, "We have heard that a large number of firearms have been illegally brought to Bangladesh from India, and the BNP is storing them."
AL leaders believe that those firearms will be seen on the streets tomorrow, and should that be the case, the AL's response will be fitting.
Even though Jamaat is not likely to get permission to hold a rally at Shapla Chattar, Jamaat acting amir Mujibur Rahman at a virtual press conference yesterday asked supporters not to be misguided by the "provocative, undemocratic and unconstitutional" government directives.
Jamaat and its student wing Shibir have been sending Telegram messages asking followers to be on the streets. This correspondent has seen some of the texts.
The game is zero sum, they believe, and they are calling out their men to be ready to even accept death, said Jamaat sources.
In the messages, the Jamaat promised to overthrow the government tomorrow, said the sources, adding that Jamaat leaders are instructing their followers to be equipped with bamboo sticks.
Jamaat and Shibir men also took out processions in different districts yesterday.
Mahid Uddin, additional commissioner (crime) of Dhaka Metropolitan Police, said police would be on the streets prepared to handle any unstable situations.
According to sources, the DMP over the last two weeks held riot control drills in the capital's 300-Feet area.
Officers-in-charge of the city's 50 police stations, their supervising additional deputy commissioners and assistant commissioners took part in the drills. The last drill took place on Wednesday.
An official said, "We were instructed to use the non-lethal weapons unless it was impossible to control the situation."