When ruling Awami League and its affiliated organisations celebrated ‘victory of democracy day’ to commemorate three years since the 5 January election, they did not meet with any obstructions anywhere. On the other hand, BNP and its affiliated organisations observed the day as ‘democracy killing day’, and met with police resistance and violence in at least 16 districts of the country. In Barisal, they were attacked by activists of the ruling party and its affiliated groups in presence of the police. This is most unfortunate.
Awami League has denied such assaults, but this denial is hardly plausible in face of the pictures and reports which appear in the media. And the 5 January police violence against BNP is nothing new. Every political party has the right to hold peaceful public meetings and rallies. But this constitutional right is being eroded by the day. Opposition political leaders and workers are being beaten up and injured by the ruling party activist under the nose of the police.
The pictures which appeared in the media of BNP leaders and activists being beaten up on 5 January in Barisal by Awami League activists in front of the police, is not only shameful for the ruling party, but for the police force too. The police administration is run on public taxes, not to function as musclemen of the ruling party.
As the ruling party enters its fourth year at the helm, it would have done good to allow the main opposition to hold peaceful programmes. It is time for a political process to commence regarding the reconstitution of the election commission and the holding of the next parliamentary polls. BNP’s participation in the process is indispensible and so there should be a working political relationship between Awami League and BNP. This cannot be brought about by the show and use of force. Both sides need a mindset of tolerance and control. They need to listen to each other with rational and open minds.