Dhaka: Ahead of a planned anti-government rally by Khaleda Zia's BNP on Monday, nearly 700 opposition activists have been detained in Bangladesh as elite RAB troops joined police in enforcing a sharp vigil, turning Dhaka into a virtual fortress.
     
Thousands of commuters waited for buses for hours on Sunday while many preferred to walk to reach their destinations as transport operators decided to stay off roads. Most of Dhaka hotels also kept their doors shut for guests.

Media reports said nearly 700 of activists were detained ahead of the "Dhaka March" of the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) in protest against the scrapping of the interim non-party caretaker government system for election oversight and price hike of essentials.
     
BNP and its ally fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami blasted the Sheikh Hasina government for "initiatives to frustrate" their planned mass protest which they called a "democratic programme", but Home Minister Sahara Khatun rejected the allegation saying the law enforcement agencies were asked to protect people's safety fearing sabotage.
    
The security vigil by police and the anti-crime Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) troops, ahead of the opposition's grand rally in the capital, is "aimed at averting possible sabotage.. there is no scope for the government to take lightly the possibility," she told reporters when asked about the opposition allegations and disruption of communication services.
    
She, however, said transport and hotel owners took the decision to suspend their services for security reasons.
    
"Not the government, but the people are in panic over the rally and for that reason the law-enforcement agencies have been asked to take necessary measures to ward off anarchy in the name of the programme," the minister said.

(Agencies)