The police foiling a “civic mourning rally” brought out by Jatiya Oikyafront to protest the murder of Buet student Abrar Fahad is disturbing. According to news reports, police intercepted the rally minutes after it started from Jatiya Press Club, led by Jatiya Oikyafront convener Dr Kamal Hossain. Earlier, on October 12, police chased a rally brought out by BNP to protest the recent deals that Bangladesh signed with India and the murder of Abrar. According to reports, police not only disrupted the rally but also detained over 100 leaders and activists of the party.
These interventions by the police are uncalled-for and unacceptable. Both the rallies had been peaceful where the organisers were practicing their democratic right to freedom of expression. Are people not allowed to express their feelings in a peaceful manner? Where is the space for the freedom of expression and freedom of assembly that the constitution guarantees?
The law enforcement agencies must realise that the protests that are being organised are for a just cause—to demand punishment of Abrar’s killers; these protests and rallies are also spaces where people can mourn this unacceptable murder. Obstruction of peaceful protests and interruption by the police must be stopped. If anything, the police should facilitate these peaceful activities. It is important to provide the people with the space where they can express their grief and their frustration. In a democracy, these rights should be exercised without being impeded by the law enforcement agencies.