Police said Tuesday they had orders to arrest ousted President Hussain Muhammad Ershad, and a dozen senior officials from his government were being sought by authorities. One was put under house arrest.

A senior police official said he expected Ershad to be detained by Wednesday. Other officials said the order could be carried out Tuesday.The police official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the former home minister, Mahmudul Hassan, had been put under house arrest. The police official said officers raided a dozen other homes, looking for senior officials of Ershad's ousted government.

As home minister, Mahmudul was in charge of the police and the paramilitary Bangladesh Rifles, which were held responsible for the deaths of about 100 people during the seven weeks of unrest aimed at forcing Ershad to resign.

Ershad, facing unrelenting public pressure and the refusal of his army to support him any longer, handed over power last week to the Supreme Court chief justice, Shahabuddin Ahmed, as acting president.

In another development, the caretaker administration moved Tuesday to drastically toughen the punishment for illegal possession of weapons, raising the maximum sentence from three years to life in prison.