The government has deployed border guards in the capital ahead of Monday’s countrywide shutdown sponsored by Jamaat-e-Islami, an official said on Sunday.
The Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) men would be stationed at points to mainly aid police who have been kept alert against any effort by the fundamentalist party, which could disrupt order during the daylong strike.
The paramilitary personnel started patrolling the streets in Dhaka from Sunday evening.
Police last week said militant activists of Jamaat-e-Islami were converging on capital Dhaka from around Bangladesh to foment trouble.
BGB Director General Aziz Ahmed told bdnews24.com: “The BGB personnel were deployed to mainly assist police.”
Asked whether the border guards would be deployed in other districts, he said, “Not for now, but will be, if needed.”
The BGB personnel started guarding the streets of the capital hours after Parliament passed the International Crimes (Tribunals) (Amendment) Act Bill-2013 allowing trials of parties and organisations accused of backing 'crimes against humanity' during the War of Independence in 1971.
The special war crimes tribunals are trying top Jamaat leadership for alleged war crimes and two judgements have said the party was indeed involved in atrocities during the Liberation War.
The amended law will also allow equal right for appeal to both defence and prosecution against any verdict.
Jamaat had called the shutdown for Monday protesting against the deaths of 'its activists’ in Cox’s Bazar on Friday amid a widespread call to ban the fundamentalist party.
Jamaat and its student wing Islami Chhatra Shibir have been demanding a halt to the war crimes trial but a nationwide uprising has called for ‘complete justice’ for all war criminals.
However, calls were made from Shahbagh’s ‘Ganajagaran Mancha’ to defy the general strike called to protect the ‘war criminals’.
Lending their support to the protesters, Dhaka Metropolitan Shop Owners Association, its parent Bangladesh Shop Owners Association and Bangladesh Road Transport Owners Association has announced that their shops and business establishments will remain open and public transport will operate normally during the strike.
Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid has also declared that all educational institutions across the country will open on Monday.
জামায়াতে ইসলামীর ডাকা হরতালের আগের দিন বুধবার রাজধানীর শাহজাহানপুরে একটি গাড়িতে আগুন দেয় হরতাল সমর্থনকারীরা।
Jamaat has been enforcing shutdowns, carrying out attacks on police and vandalising vehicles for the last few months to press for the release of the party top-brass.
State Minister for Law Qamrul Islam on Sunday told reporters at the Secretariat, “The government will take measures against Jamaat during tomorrow’s [Monday] shutdown. The young generation has ordered us, we are taking the hard line.”
He also maintained that banning Jamaat had become a demand of the people.
Demonstrators at the capital’s Shahbagh have since Feb 5 been demanding death to all ‘war criminals’ including Jamaat leader Abdul Quader Molla who was sentenced to life in prison by the International Crimes Tribunal-2. The movement stepped into day 13 on Sunday with the protesters carrying their movement tirelessly.
They have been demanding a ban on Jamaat from politics. Following the Shahbagh protest, the Awami league-led Grand Alliance government decided to bring the amendment to the ICT law. The Cabinet cleared the amendment on Feb 11 and it was tabled in Parliament on Feb 13.
Parliament passed the amended law on Sunday.
Qamrul Islam said, “It is now only a matter of time to ban Jamaat-e-Islami from politics.”
Earlier, leaders of Peshajibi Samannay Parishad met with the junior Law Minister and Law Minister Shafique Ahmed. They asked the government to take stern measures against the violence carried out by leaders and activists of Jamaat and its student affiliate Islami Chhatra Shibir.
Shafique Ahmed said Jamaat did not believe in the rule of law. “This [Jamaat] is a party of terrorists. The need to ban this party in line with the Constitution has arisen. The government is working to ban this party.”
He said a writ petition was also filed in 2009 to for banning Jamaat. “The government believes that those who believe in militancy but not in rule of law does not have the right to be in politics.”