Police high-ups of different units have directed their field-level officers not to file political cases or arrest any political leaders and activists until further orders.
The directive came against the backdrop of the prime minister's assurance to Jatiya Oikyafront leaders during a dialogue on November 7 that no new “political cases” will be filed and no one will be arrested apart from those accused in criminal cases.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) Commissioner Asaduzzaman Mia sent an urgent SMS to deputy commissioners on Saturday asking them to suspend political arrests and not to record any political cases without their knowledge until further orders as instructed by the home minister, police officials said.
At a DMP monthly crime conference held yesterday, attended by officers-in-charge and other higher authorities concerned, the commissioner reiterated the directive, said a number of participants. Different unit chiefs across the country issued similar instructions, resulting in a sharp decrease in the number of political arrests, our local correspondents report quoting police.
In Dhaka, no one was arrested in any new political cases in the last two days, court sources said. OCs of some police stations in Chittagong Metropolitan Police (CMP) areas said there was almost no “political arrests” in the last couple of days.
A CMP official, requesting anonymity, said, “We were verbally instructed a couple of days ago not to make any political arrest or file political cases, with the exception of executing warrants and arresting those accused in existing criminal cases.”
In Satkhira, where the minimum number of arrests per day in the last few years has been at least 40, including those of political activists, the number has made a sharp fall.
District police yesterday said 18 people wanted in criminal cases were arrested on Sunday and some three to four people were arrested yesterday following orders from high-ups.
Speaking to The Daily Star, Sohel Rana, assistant inspector general (media) of Police Headquarters, said, “We have already been working in consistency with the home minister's directive.”
He claimed that the headquarters never issued any directives to arrest anyone based on their individual or political identity, adding, “We always asked our units to take legal action and work within the purview of the law. We are already in the position that the home minister wants us to be in.”
Political party men in some districts believe police harassment has lessened in past two days.
In Bagerhat, BNP leaders said that police have become little lenient, but AL men were “disturbing them” during campaigns.
“Awami League men are patrolling different villages and obstructing our men whenever they try to conduct campaigns,” said MA Salam, president of Bagerhat district's BNP unit.
Asked about police harassment, Rajshahi City BNP Office Secretary Nazmul Hasan Biken said, “The situation has evidently improved in the last two days. Our party leaders and activists were able to move freely in the city without police troubling them.”