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CHECKING VIOLENCE

Local reps asked to assist law enforcers

Mustafizur Rahman

The government on Sunday decided to engage local representatives ‘more effectively’ to protect life and property of the public’ in the face of violent protests over the election and execution of war crimes convict Abdul Quader Molla.
The cabinet committee on law and order at a meeting at the secretariat took the decision amid violence and vandalism that flared up after the announcement of the schedules for the 10th parliamentary election on November 25, killing over 100 people so far.
Activists of Jamaat-e-Islami and Islami Chhatra Shibir have struck terror across the country since the execution of Quader Molla on December 12, targeting mainly ruling party men and public property.
‘The law enforcement agencies have been asked to maintain order at any cost with the help of the local representatives and the people in general,’ a senior official told New Age after the meeting.
The cabinet body asked the information ministry to take steps so that the media did not publish or broadcast any reports that might panic the people ahead of the elections scheduled for January 5, the official added.
Chaired by land minister Amir Hossain Amu, the two-hour meeting was also attended by works minister Tofail Ahmed, telecommunications minister Rashed Khan Menon, information minister Hasanul Haq Inu, water resources minister Anisul Islam Mahmud, state minister for home Shamsul Haque and state minister for law Quamrul Islam, among others.  
Amu, however, refused to brief waiting journalists about the meeting’s decisions.
The law enforcement agencies informed the meeting that the violence might intensify before and after the January 5 elections with the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led 18 party alliance protesting against holding of the polls and demanding a non-party caretaker government for a free and fair election.  
The meeting decided that the local administration should also ensure involvement of the common people besides the elected representatives to check violence in the run-up to and post-election violence as 154 candidates, mostly from the ruling Awami League, were elected unopposed out of 300.
The cabinet committee also asked the local government division to make sure that the local representatives —union parisad chairmen and members, upazila chairmen and members and mayors and ward commissioners —across the country perform their responsibilities in maintaining order at the grassroots during the time as incidents of attack on Awami League activists and their houses had increased recently, according to officials.
The local government division earlier issued directives to the local representatives, reminding them of their responsibilities in maintaining law and order in the field level.
After the first meeting of the reconstituted cabinet committee on law and order on December 4, Amir Hossain Amu said that the situation was improving gradually.
‘The situation is under control of the law enforcement agencies,’ Amu claimed.
The second such meeting also reviewed the overall law and order after a protracted blockade that badly affected road links across the country.




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