The government has launched a mass arrest campaign to foil BNP and Jamaat-e-Islami's joint political movement and create fear among their activists at all levels. The drive will continue periodically, Awami League's policymakers have told the Bangla Tribune. Some leaders have described it as part of the police's routine work.
The senior leaders also said that the arrested BNP and Jamaat leaders were under surveillance from the law enforcement, and there are specific charges against them. A senior minister said the government had recently been monitoring all BNP-Jamaat activists closely.
Awami League Presidium member Faruk Khan said: “The arrested Jamaat leaders have specific allegations against them, which is now clear from the police's statements.”
“It has been proved again and again that BNP and Jamaat have been conspiring for the last eight-and-a-half years. The government's job is to foil their plots and machinations and provide security to the public,” he said.
“This arrest drive is part of that effort. This will most certainly continue,” he added.
Faruk Khan said the drive was a part of the government and the law enforcement's continued operations.
Other party policymakers have described a different reason for the mass arrest of Jamaat leaders. They believe Jamaat is heavily engaged in conspiracy at the moment, planning to mobilise BNP to that end. The government wants to foil their plan through these arrests.
Sources say the government does not want any unrest in the country until the elections. It is therefore bent on nipping any conspiracy at the bud.
Several leaders of the ruling party said this would be a two-pronged approach, the Awami League will counter the BNP's movement politically while the government would counter them from an administrative position.
Party sources say the government is already troubled by the Rohingya crisis and several other problems. A political unrest would put it in a worse position, which is why the government is determined to hit back hard at any attempt to create unrest. Other sources said the government and Awami League would remain tolerant about peaceful protests and political programmes.
The policymakers said the law enforcement and intelligence agencies had information that starting in December and leading up to the 11th parliamentary elections, BNP and Jamaat were planning the same widespread chaos and violence they undertook right before the last elections. The arrest campaign was the law enforcement's effort to foil this conspiracy.
They said BNP was planning to mobilise to force the implementation of its proposals given to the Election Commission. They have picked December as the beginning of their movement. They also want to give a last push against the verdict of the embezzlement case against BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia. They fear that the party may once again push the country towards instability. The government's campaign of fear is the counter-strategy for this.
The senior leaders also said they believed BNP was once again planning to boycott the polls. The party is not worried about having its registration cancelled for the boycott, because it can get the High Court to put a stay order on the decision.
The ruling party believes if BNP chief Khaleda Zia and her son Tarique Rahman can agree on a plan, the party will take the path of political movement. The ruling party plans to maintain control on the ground politically and take actions through the government to foil this plan.
A Presidium member who wished to remain anonymous said: “BNP is moving towards a policy of boycotting and preventing the polls. Khaleda Zia and Tarique Rahman are busy hatching this plan in London. They are hoping that it will work out in their favour eventually.”
Another leader who asked not to be named said: “Our information is that BNP has changed its tactic. It will now try to capture the political field, starting by mobilising in December and gradually strengthening the movement.”
Awami League Presidium member Abdur Razzak said: “To my knowledge there are specific reasons behind the arrest drive. The arrested Jamaat leaders were plotting against the government.”
Another Presidium member Kazi Zafarullah said there were specific allegations against the arrested Jamaat leaders and there was no politics involved in the matter.