POST TIME: 5 February, 2018 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 4 February, 2018 11:55:39 PM
Graft case against khaleda
Concern grows over February 8 verdict
Abu Jakir

Concern grows over 
February 8 verdict

Only three days are left for a trial court to deliver its verdict in the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case in which BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia is an accused. Political analysts and commoners are apprehensive about the country's political landscape being marred by chaos in the aftermath of the verdict. Leaders and activists of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) are keen to show off their strength on the streets if their leader gets convicted. Law enforcers, on the other hand, have started rounding up opposition activists from across the country. The BNP is planning to organise a huge gathering in the capital on February 8, the day of the verdict. The ruling Awami League (AL) has already instructed its leaders and workers to take to the streets a day earlier to bar the BNP from creating any chaos. Sources said the government has planned to seal all entrances to Dhaka one or two days before the verdict. It is also likely to create an artificial transport crisis to prevent BNP workers from pouring in the capital, they added. Common people fear that the situation may worsen even more as there is a longstanding disagreement on how the upcoming national elections should be held at the end of this year. The AL says the next polls will be held in line with the constitutional guidelines, while the BNP demands that the polls be held under a neutral administration.

It should be noted that the whole city came to a standstill after the January 5 general election in 2014. The BNP at that time resorted to a three-month-long violent programme including strikes, blockades and riots that threw normal life completely out of gear. Khaleda Zia yesterday held a meeting of the BNP national standing committee to outline the course of action in case she is convicted and sent to jail. Earlier, on Saturday, Khaleda sat with the party’s key grassroots leaders and gave necessary instructions. Over 500 members of the party’s national executive committee joined the meeting at Hotel Le Meridian in the capital. The BNP chairperson told her partymen to remain united during her absence and to face the situation peacefully.

Liton Das, a drug store owner, said they are worried about the implications of the orphanage graft verdict. A volatile political situation is likely to hamper the business, he added. “I don’t know what exactly will happen on that day. But I know that something bad is going to happen. I have already cancelled my pleasure trip to Cox’s Bazar in fear of a countrywide unrest,” said Eyasin Rana, a service holder.

The AL has asked its grassroots leaders and activists to remain alert so that the BNP-Jamaat nexus could not unleash chaos across the country after the verdict. Shafiqul Islam Shafiq, a grassroots AL leader, told The Independent yesterday that they have been instructed to guard peoples’ lives and properties on the verdict day. “We’ll take to the streets from February 7 to 10 to prevent BNP-Jamaat activists from harming peoples,” he added.

Contacted, AL joint general secretary Mahbubul Alam Hanif said the political arena might get heated up again centring the orphanage graft verdict. “But AL workers will be ready to tackle BNP-Jamaat men on the streets if they try to create chaos on the verdict day. Our main objective is to assist law enforcement to save people’s lives and properties,” he added.  

BNP standing committee member Lt Gen. (retd) Mahbubur Rahman said that they will take to the streets peacefully following the directive of Khaleda Zia.  “We wouldn’t do anything to deteriorate the law and order situation. Our movement will be peaceful and disciplined,” he added. He also said that anyone trying to sabotage the movement will face organisational action.