Local Reporter, (interviews with local residents and politicians)
In Nilfamari, a northern district of Bangladesh, mass people including day laborers and wage-earners are getting arrested. Panicked men across the district are running away to avoid getting arrested by the joint forces who have picked up 52 people in the last 10 days.
These people have been arrested in connection to a lawsuit following the death of 5 (including 4 AL supporters) during a clash between police-AL activists and 18 party Opposition alliance supporters. However, it is alleged that most of the arrested are commoners who earn their bread by manual labor. Opposition supporters as well as the mass people are panic-stricken as the joint forces have been conducting drives in different areas of the district almost every night. Some opposition supporters along with non-partisan people in Ramganj and Tupamari areas of the district are attending AL activities to avoid getting arrested.
Punishing whole areas where there is mass support for Jamaat:
According to sources, on the night of the December 14 clash; police filed a lawsuit mentioning 14 opposition men and another 1500 unknown people. Since then, the joint forces have been conducting the arrest drives and picking up indiscriminately almost anyone from anywhere in connection to this lawsuit. Among the arrested people so far, there are working commoners, shopkeepers and Madrasah students. The drives are especially rigorous in areas populated mostly by Jamaat supporters at a mass level. Areas noted for their support for Jamaat are devoid of men as they are running away from getting arrested. Among these are Panchapukur, Kachukata and Tupamari unions of Sadar Upozilla, Khutamara, Meerganj, Shimulbari, Golmunda, Golna, Kathali, Dharmapal and Koimari unions of Jaldhaka Upozilla. On physical visit, these areas have been found almost devoid of male inhabitants. The women left behind are utterly scared. Some people from Ramganj informed that for the fear of ruling party men it is dangerous to come out even in daylight. Anyone found in the areas is labeled as Jamaat-Shibir men, beaten and then handed over to police.
Citizens also informed that at noon on December 22, Jubo League activists severely beat Abu Saeed, an electronics shop owner at Ramganj bazaar, Mainul Islam, a grocer, Aijul, a cloth store owner, Majibar, a hardware shop owner and Mofajjal Hossain, a shopper, and detained them. Afterwards, they handed them over to police as Jamaat-Shibir supporters. Besides, on December 21, the joint forces arrested 3 people including a madrasah student. On December they arrested 21 people from different areas. As many as 15 of them are not involved with any political party, local inhabitants have informed us. Moreover, a dry fish seller, a shopkeeper and a drug store owner have been arrested from Baraipara area of the district town. The district chief of Jamaat alleged that most of the people arrested so far are non-partisan commoners. He said that mostly commoners are getting arrested as opposition supporters have already gone underground.
A reign of terror prevails across the district. Again, some people scared of getting arrested joined a human chain arranged by AL protesting the December 14’s incident. Some BNP activists willing to remain unnamed informed that they had been threatened to be arrested unless they joined the human chain. This has been confirmed by the district coordinator of BNP although he claimed that they were just some activists not anyone significant. However, he informed that a list of the participants would be prepared and action taken against them.