Initially, the government’s handling of Hefazat-e-Islam’s Dhaka siege had been admirably restrained. The police had been given instructions to not lose their heads, and even the Chhatra League only entered the fray after the AL party office had come under attack by Hefazat protesters.
It could be argued that it would have been wiser for the government to have given permission for Hefazat’s rally in the capital earlier, and thus been able to plan for it better. But, all things considered, the way in which they addressed Hefazat’s stated goal to blockade Dhaka and cut it off from the rest of the country was a model of restraint and prudence.
Indeed, many have argued that the government should have taken a firmer stand and should have come down on Hefazat with an iron fist. We are however cognizant of the pressures that they have been under and are appreciative of the wisdom inherent in trying to defuse the situation with careful and cautious handling.
However, it now seems as though that initial caution is likely to be abandoned. Hefazat has done itself no favours with its violence and incendiary rhetoric against the government and announcement that it will not be moved from the streets until its 13-point charter of demands is accepted. This was an open provocation to the government, and it seems clear that Hefazat is bent on provoking a confrontation.
While it is important for the government to project strength and to not be cowed by Hefazat, and ultimately to do everything in its power to both protect the general public and to not give in to political blackmail, we only urge that it continue to exercise caution and restraint.
It is a tough balance to keep and we do not envy the government its responsibility. We only caution that, as it does its job of maintaining law and order, that it keep in mind that precipitous or disproportionate action will only throw further fuel on the fire.