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2 February, 2018 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 2 February, 2018 01:09:11 AM
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tension mounts ahead of February 8 verdict

BNP activists on the run amid police crackdown

BNP exec body meet at Le Meridien tomorrow
RAFIQUL ISLAM AZAD
BNP activists on the run amid police crackdown

BNP leaders and activists are on the run following a crackdown after Tuesday’s attack on policemen in the High Court area. BNP sources said around 250 party leaders and activists, including standing committee member Goyeshwar Chandra Roy and Azizul Bari Helal, had been arrested and search operations conducted in the houses of many BNP leaders over the past two days. Of them, Helal and 58 others were remanded yesterday.

Party leaders described the police action against the BNP rank and file as the government’s barometer to gauge the possible intensity of the protest that could erupt after the February 8 court verdict in the Orphanage Trust graft case in which Khaleda Zia’s Zia is one of the main accused.

Referring to the attack on policemen by BNP activists while Khaleda Zia was returning from the special court, Awami League (AL) leaders warned that they would not allow anyone to create anarchy following the February 8 court verdict.

BNP leaders, however, described Tuesday’s attack as an act of sabotage by the government to create panic among BNP leaders and activists to control the situation.  

BNP standing committee member Dr Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain accused the government of creating an abnormal situation as part of its plan to keep the BNP and its chairperson, Khaleda Zia, out of the election process. As part of the conspiracy, the government was eager to convict Khaleda Zia, he said. Sensing a possible reaction across the country if Khaleda Zia were to be punished, the government was trying to gain control of the situation by arresting BNP leaders and activists and implicating them in false cases, he added.

The former minister, however, warned that conspiracies did not always succeed and that people would this time foil the government’s plan.  

He said despite re-routing the path of Khaleda’s return from the court and arresting party leaders and activists, there was no reduction in the number of people lining her way.

Replying to a question, the elderly leader said they made no preparations for February 8 and added that everything would depend on the decision of the government.

“Let us see the people’s reaction, if Khaleda were put in jail. We will take our next course of action after that,” he said.

Another standing committee member, Nazrul Islam Khan, admitted that party leaders and activists had been gripped by panic to some extent because of the police crackdown after the attack on policemen on Tuesday.

He also said there was no way to tell how people would react if the government acted like an autocrat and trampled democratic rights. The government did not believe in democracy, existence of the opposition and different opinions, which explained the oppressive measures, he added.

BNP vice-chairman Maj. (retd) M Hafizuddin Ahmed said the AL’s attitude indicated that they would cling to power forcibly by flouting democratic norms. He also said the government had turned the country into a police state.

The former minister accused the government of stage-managing Tuesday’s attack on policemen. “It was an act of sabotage. The government organised it with its own people. It also wants to do the same on February 8, as it aims to hold a January 5-like poll again,” he added.

BNP organising secretary Ruhul Quddus Talukder Dulu also alleged that the government was trying to create panic among the party’s leaders and activists and provoke them.

He said the party high command had given directives to grass-roots level leaders to have patience and not be provoked by any quarter.

Party activists have been asked to remain alert and not get involved in anarchy, as the government could try to create an unseemly situation and hold the BNP responsible, he added.

The BNP, which had boycotted the January 5 elections, has said it will take part in the election this time, likely to be held later this year. But the party sticks to its demand of holding the election under an election-time neutral government.

Meanwhile, the BNP will hold the extended meeting of its national executive committee at Hotel Le Méridien in the capital tomorrow.

Addressing a media briefing at the party’s Naya Paltan central office, BNP senior joint secretary-general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi said BNP Chairperson and former premier Khaleda Zia will preside over the meeting starting from 10:00am.

Rizvi said earlier they had contacted the authorities of the Institution of Engineers, Bangladesh, the Institution of Diploma Engineers, Bangladesh, Mohanagar Natyamancha, Hotel Purbani and International Convention City Bashundhara (ICB), but they declined to allow them to use their auditoriums for the meeting.

Identity cards of the members for participating in the meeting are being provided from the party central office, he added.

Rizvi said a notice has already been sent to all the 502 executive committee members asking them to be present at the meeting.

BNP formed its 502-member national executive committee on August 6 in 2016 over four and a half months after its national council held on March 19. As per the party’s constitution, the meeting of the executive committee should be held after every three months, but it could not hold any meeting over the last one and a half years.

Now, the meeting was called as the Special Court-5 in Dhaka is set to deliver its verdict in the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case filed against Khaleda and five others on February 8.

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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.

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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