Bangladesh widens crackdown on crime ahead of polls | india | Hindustan Times
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Bangladesh widens crackdown on crime ahead of polls

india Updated: Jan 18, 2007 14:17 IST
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Security forces in Bangladesh have detained nearly 2,000 people, including political activists, since a state of emergency was declared a week ago to end pre-election violence, police said on Thursday.

Police, army and elite Rapid Action Battalion forces have been ordered to round up "trouble makers" in the run up to the election, expected sometime in the next few months.

The, poll originally set for January 22, was postponed last week after the interim government's caretaker president quit after weeks of protests, strikes and transport blockades called by an alliance of parties that had boycotted the election.

Dozens of people were killed and hundreds injured in the unrest.

Security officials said on Thursday they would intensify the crackdown on criminals and political activists known to have been involved in the recent violence.

In the latest raid on Wednesday, security forces detained about a dozen students at Dhaka University, many of them leaders of group that support Sheikh Hasina, chief of the Awami League that leads the multi-party alliance.

Police also looked for student supporters of Hasina's rival, Begum Khaleda Zia, the immediate past prime minister, but left empty-handed, university officials said.

Inspector-General of Police, Khuda Baksh Chowdhury, told Reuters on Thursday the crackdown was aimed at improving law and order and help the economy, which had taken a battering from the rolling strikes and transport blockades.

Khaleda ended her five-year tenure as prime minister in October and handed power to the interim authority then headed by President Iajuddin Ahmed.

Under Bangladesh's constitution, a caretaker authority must organise new elections.

Hasina's alliance accused Iajuddin of favouring Khaleda in the polls and demanded he resign as caretaker president.

Iajuddin has named former central bank governor Fakhruddin Ahmed as the new caretaker chief and appointed a new panel of advisers, who quickly initiated steps to improve law and order.

Government officials said on Thursday the new caretaker president was expected to invite Hasina and Khaleda for talks on preparing for the election.