- Over 100 arrests after BNP-police clashes on Saturday
- At least 13 cases against 700 people over Saturday's violence
- BNP to stage demos tomorrow
- AL announced sit-ins and processions at city wards
- BNP said it would no longer seek permission for demos
- DMP won't allow BNP on streets if permission for Monday's rally not received, said DMP Commissioner
- AL always ready to respond to BNP's programmes in name of movement, said Mirza Azam, AL Dhaka organising secretary
- We gained sympathy from people and internationally, it showed there is no democratic space in Bangladesh, said Syed Moazzem Hossain Alal, AL joint secretary general of the party
With the country in fear of another round of havoc, like the one that rocked Dhaka on Saturday, most eyes will be firmly set today on the BNP-announced countrywide rallies, and AL's sit-ins and processions in the wards of the city.
Saturday saw a spate of clashes in the capital's Jatrabari, Gabtoli and Dholaikhal after the BNP went ahead with its sit-ins despite not seeking or being given police permission.
The police took a heavy-handed approach, cracking down on the BNP programmes at different points in the capital. Vehicles were torched while police and opposition members left injured. Over 100 were arrested.
Police, meanwhile, filed at least 13 cases against 700 people over Saturday's violence, while the BNP, calling for the ouster of the government, prepare for the countrywide rallies without applying for permission.
The ruling AL has made its intentions clearly known: it will not remain silent spectators, if things go awry. Although they postponed their "peace rally", the party announced that it would demonstrate at city wards today.
Speaking to The Business Standard, Mirza Azam, AL Dhaka division's organising secretary, said the BNP had brought back arson attacks through its sit-ins at the entry points of the capital on Saturday.
"They [BNP] attacked ordinary citizens, alongside AL activists and leaders. They also set fire to buses," he said.
"The Awami League is determined to stop this anarchy. We will not allow this. The AL and its affiliated organisations are on alert throughout the country so that no harm can be done to the lives and properties.
He, however, said the party's instructions to the grassroots were not to attack anyone.
'Focus on Dhaka'
Speaking to The Business Standard, Ruhul Kabir Rizvi, senior joint secretary of the BNP, said, "Our movement will be Dhaka-centric. We will change strategy as needed, even at the ward level. But for now, our focus is on Dhaka and our movement will intensify."
Syed Moazzem Hossain Alal, joint secretary general of the party, said, "We suffered a minor setback in Saturday's programmes. But broadly speaking, we won on two ends – we gained huge sympathy from the people and internationally. It showed there is no democratic space in Bangladesh. The government is in a crackdown mode and this has been proven over and over again."
Speaking at a press conference on Sunday, BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said the party had nothing to do with the burning of vehicles.
"Members of government agencies and even cadres of the Awami League have carried out these incidents in a planned way with the help of police and recorded videos before fleeing on motorcycles," he alleged.
Meanwhile, the Jamaat-e-Islam has also turned to Dhaka. Party's acting secretary general, ATM Masum, announced they will hold a rally in Dhaka on 1 August.
The Dhaka Metropolitan Police has already declared that if the BNP does not get permission for Monday's rallies, they won't be allowed on the streets.
Speaking to The Business Standard, DMP Commissioner Khandker Golam Faruq said, "They [BNP] haven't applied yet. If they get permission, we will allow them. Otherwise, we won't, by any means."
The DMP had previously denied permission to both AL and BNP to hold their programmes in the capital on Saturday. But that hardly deterred the parties to take to the streets.
The BNP had also announced the party would no longer seek permission for its demonstrations.
Saturday's defiance by the BNP was met with a heavy hand, resulting in several injured on both sides. Senior BNP leaders Gayeshwar Chandra Roy and Amanullah Aman were detained to be released later.