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9 March, 2018 12:19:25 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 9 March, 2018 01:15:55 PM

BNP top brass look for alternatives

Movement for Khaleda release
Staff Reporter
BNP top brass look for 
Plainclothes policemen detain Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal leader SM Mizanur Rahman Raj who (inset) is trying to escape arrest by holding onto BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir during a sit-in demanding release of the Khaleda Zia in front of National Press Club in the capital yesterday. Focus Bangla Photo

Concerted police action against BNP programmes and rallies in the past one month has left the party in a quandary, with central leaders contemplating new avenues of political movement to demand the release of  party chairperson Khaleda Zia. While the BNP has accused law enforcers of targeting opposition leaders and activists and deliberately foiling its programmes, the ruling Awami League has brushed aside the allegations by claiming that police were only arresting the criminals hiding inside the Khaleda-led party.

Talking to The Independent, senior BNP leaders alleged that police had foiled 13 party-sponsored programmes, including five in Dhaka, for “unknown reasons” during the past one month after Khaleda was jailed in a graft case on February 8. Of them, police foiled a BNP procession in front of Fakirerpool water tank on March 10 while it was proceeding towards the party central office from north gate of the Baitul Mukarram national mosque. The law enforcers also obstructed the BNP’s black flag event on February 24 and leaflet distribution programme on March 1 in front of the party central office.

The BNP’s March 6 human chain programme in front of Jatiya Press Club was also disrupted and the president of BNP ally Swechchasebok Dal, Shafiul Bari Babu, was arrested from the event, party leaders alleged.

Yesterday, BNP’s sit-in demonstration was foiled 10 minutes ahead of its schedule ending as the law enforcers arrested a Chhatra Dal leader from the rally. Besides, the party was also denied permission to hold rallies in the city three times. Now, the party has been denied permission to hold rallies at Chittagong and Khulna, they added.

Speaking at a press conference at the party central office, BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir  yesterday accused police of carrying out an attack on the party’s sit-in demonstration in front of Jatiya Press Club. He

also alleged that the law enforcers did not show courtesy to senior leaders during their crackdown on the party demonstration to demand Khaleda’s release. He announced that the BNP will hold thana-level protest rallies in the city against the police action. The Press Club rally was supposed to end at 12 noon, but police raided the programme to detain Chhatra Dal leader SM Mizanur Rahman and two others at 11.50 am.

Fakhrul compared the police action to that of Gestapo under Hitler cracking down on democratic activists. Terming each of the party programmes after Khaleda’s imprisonment as peaceful, the BNP leader said this has irritated the government and thus it went for the disrupting BNP programmes through provocation.

A BNP vice-chairman said the party was thinking about a new course of action in the face of police obstruction to carry out peaceful programmes. The party will continue the peaceful programmes by defying the “police attack and obstruction”, but may go for tougher action from June and July, he added.

BNP joint secretary general Barkat Ullah Bulu alleged that government forces were deliberately provoking them. “The law enforcers are disturbing us from carrying out peaceful programmes and harassing party leaders and activists,” he added.

He warned that thousands of party leaders and activists were ready to court arrest, but they would not take the path of anarchy. “We will continue the peaceful and democratic movement by defying the obstacles,” he said.

Meanwhile, BNP acting chairman Tarique Rahman yesterday talked to the family members of President Dhaka North Unit of JCD SM Mizanur Rahman Raj and assured them of taking necessary legal steps to secure his release soon. Earlier on Wednesday Tarique also made a phone call to the wife of Swechchhasebak Dal leader Shafiul Bari Babu and inquired about their well-being.

On the other hand, AL presidium member Mohammed Nasim refuted the BNP allegation. “As far as we know, they (BNP) are holding their rallies without any obstacles,’ he said.

AL joint general secretary Mahbubul Alam Hanif echoed Nasim. “The question of obstructing them does not arise. The law enforcers are only arresting the criminals who are in hiding inside their fold,” he said.

The AL leader said law enforcers were working to book criminals as part of their duty to maintain law and order.

Minister for Home Affairs Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal also claimed that the law enforcers did not carry out any attack on BNP rally.

“No attack was carried out on the rally. I would have been informed if there was any attack,” he said. The minister, however, said that he came to know that the accused has been arrested from the rally.

The BNP has been carrying out countrywide demonstrations and mass contact programmes in a non-violent manner following Khaleda’s conviction and sentencing in the graft case. The party has organised various protest rallies, human chain programmes, hunger strike, black flag procession and distribution of leaflets to demand her release.

The BNP is also planning to hold a rally at Suhrawardy Udyan on March 12, at Hadith Park in Khulna on March 10, and on Laldighi ground in Chittagong on March 30. However, the authorities concerned were yet to give permission for the same, party sources said.






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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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