Police have been advised to be prudent while detaining people, especially devout Muslims during strike and any other campaigns including anti-government protests by Islamic groups in the country, officials at the Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) said on Saturday.
Detention of some such devout Muslims across the country over the last few days has sparked resentment and criticism against police after Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami alleged that the government had started persecution of the followers of Islam.
"Among the detained people there may be some innocent Musallies, but they were released after scrutiny," Home Minister Muhiuddin Khan Alamgir, told the FE.
However, the home minister said that it is very difficult for police to ensure identity of such people during violence and subsequrnt operations.
To minimise detaining of innocent devout Muslims the relevant authorities have also advised all the officers-in-charge of police stations in the major cities, towns, urban centres and possible protest centres to enforce laws strictly to maintain law and order, a senior official of the MoFA said.
"In the same time we have also instructed police not to detain any people on suspicion when situation becomes normal following political unrest at the relevant troubled spots," the MoHA official said.
But the police have been instructed to subdue violent protesters with all measurers compatible under the law of the country.
"At the onset of any street violence police will issue warning to the probable trouble mongers, if not heeded they are entitled to use batons, teargas, pepper guns, blank shots and firing of rubber bullets subsequently in case the violence flares," the official added.
Arrest of violent activists by using force has also been approved, before bringing them to book, through legal procedures, he said.
But the order clearly said that no innocent people should be detained on suspicion when normalcy is restored following any violence. People engaged in violence should be detained and not after the violence is stopped or brought under control.
The verbal order was issued as the Islami groups have called for a day long nationwide general strike on Sunday to protest against police actions on them during Friday's protests.
The verbal order has been issued on Saturday after scores of non-violent devout Muslims were detained following violence erupted on Friday across the country over alleged blasphemy of Islam and its Prophet by some local bloggers.
More than 500 people were detained on Friday in the country including Gaibandha, Sylhet and Jhenidah, where four people were killed and many injured during violent protests called by 12 Islamic groups led by Khelfat Andolan.
Nearly 200 people were detained in Dhaka and the rest in Chittagong, Rajshahi, Khulna, Bogra Moulvibazar, Pabna and several other places, where violence also erupted after Juma prayer.
Investigators later found that at least more than one-third of the people detained were innocent and most of them were released by Saturday and the rest were sent to court on charges of violence.
It was revealed that most of the innocent people who were released, were detained by police long after the violence was quelled on Friday.
They were detained while returning home or going away from home on some business. They were neither involved in clash with police nor they took part in any agitation.
As most of them wore beards and Islamic prayer dress, police suspected them as Islamic activists and whisked them away to different police stations.
However, during detention on suspicion they were not physically assaulted by police. However the had to face harassment and insult at different stages of being arrested and released due to perennial poor public dealings by a section of police officials.
"I was returning home by rickshaw, when a group of policemen stopped and asked to get into their van at Motijheel on Friday after police had brought the situation under control," a devout Muslim who was released by police early on Saturday, said.
Like me there were 20 others, out of a total of 60, detained by a particular police station alone. The rest, most of whom are believed to be Islamic activists were picked up during the violence. Most of them also had marks of injuries inflicted during the clash, the man said.