Police say the initiative aims to ensure the safety of people, ahead of Independence Day
Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) has ratcheted up security in and around the capital's diplomatic enclave to avoid any untoward incident, ahead of Independence Day to be observed on Tuesday.
Checkposts and additional police presence as part of the security measures were in place in the Gulshan, Banani and Baridhara areas of Dhaka since Sunday morning, following instructions from higher-ups, said officials.
They said the extra security measures were taken considering the latest terror attack at two mosques in New Zealand, and ahead of Bangladesh’s Independence Day.
While police put in place extra layers of security, a number of foreign embassies, missions, and organisations have requested their officials to be alert and stay safe.
Some of these missions and organisations said they issued the alerts on account of terror threats, but police dismissed these views.
Several clubs in the diplomatic zone, including Gulshan Club and International Recreation Club, also issued security alerts for their members.
DMP’s Gulshan Division Deputy Commissioner Mushtaq Ahmed said: "We have tightened security ahead of March 26, and the security alerts issued by various clubs upon instruction from us are just a precaution. This is something we do ahead of any special occasion.”
A top official of DMP’s Diplomatic Security Division also denied the possibility of any terror threat and brushed off rumours.
DMP Commissioner Asaduzzaman Mia told the Dhaka Tribune that the rumours of a red alert being issued were “completely baseless.” “A group of people may have spread the message to spread mass confusion and panic.”
“There is no red alert, nor any security threat in Bangladesh. Everything is normal,” he stressed, before adding that police increased patrolling and check post vigilance only because of upcoming Independence Day.
The Dhaka-based foreign embassies and missions that issued security alerts for their officials and staff include the US, Australia, Pakistan, and Switzerland.
The US embassy in a notice said that even though they were not aware of any specific threats, American officials and nationals should avoid public areas, crowds, and demonstrations, and that they should carry proper identification.
The World Bank Group and Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) were among the international agencies that asked their international staff to avoid unnecessary movement and public locations, such as approved clubs and restaurants, until further notice.
Gulshan Club Senior Manager (Administration) Nurul Alam confirmed to the Dhaka Tribune that they were restricting services for the next two weeks and taking extra safety measures following the DMP recommendation.
A top official of the International Recreation Club also said they issued the alert for their members after receiving a verbal message from the DMP regarding security.
"Police beefed up security in the diplomatic enclave just like they do ahead of any major public holiday, such as Eid or New Year," said Faiz Sobhan, senior research director of the Bangladesh Enterprise Institute.
“I think it is a standard procedure that the police takes additional security initiatives on big days like Independence Day,” he added.