The start of the two day blockade called by the BNP and its allies on Monday saw repeated acts of intimidation and vandalism, which predictably led to a person being killed as they tried to avoid a clash between violent protestors and law enforcers.
Shockingly, the blockade has included some of its supporters removing tracks and key equipment from railway lines and over 20 people were injured when the Dhaka-Mohanganj train was derailed as a result.
At a time when the election is scheduled and dialogue attempts are underway, we fail to see whose interest is served by this so-called blockade.
The opposition is entitled to express dissent and to call protests over the election framework, but there is no constitutional right to recklessly endanger peoples’ lives in this manner. The economy is clearly harmed by the flow of goods being disrupted and as with hartals, a climate of fear is created for ordinary citizens.
The BNP also harms its own case by allowing itself to be associated with such actions.
We believe it should unequivocally disassociate itself from criminal acts and rethink its course of action towards a clearly non-violent and voluntary model of protest.
Such an approach would be more likely to win rather than alienate public sympathy. It would also put the ball more firmly into the government’s court by showing some moral authority. This would have the potential to oblige the government to take a more conciliatory approach towards settling the election deadlock.