BNP vows to hold rally


New Age Online

Tension gripped people as the Bangladesh Nationalist Party on Sunday vowed to hold the rally it planned for today defying a ban, while the law enforcers laid siege to BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia’s Gulshan office for the second day.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police on Sunday morning imposed a ban on all rallies and gatherings in the capital until further order.
At least 14 vehicles were set on fire in the city and elsewhere across the country following the ban. Border Guards of Bangladesh members were deployed in the city and in some other districts on Sunday evening to assist the administration to maintain the law and order.
Operations of buses and water transports towards Dhaka from most of the districts were suspended on Sunday causing enormous suffering to thousands of people scheduled for travelling to Dhaka.
Transport owners claimed that no government order was there to suspend the transport operations, but they suspended their services because of security.
The prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, will address the nation at 7.15pm today amidst simmering tension over counter programmes of the ruling Awami League and the BNP over the one year of the January 5, 2014 elections, boycotted by all opposition parties.
Prime minister’s press secretary AKM Shameem Chowdhury said Hasina would deliver the address marking one-year completion of the general election held on January 5, 2014.
Bangladesh Television, 12 stations of Bangladesh Betar, private television channels, private commercial radios and community radios will simultaneously air the address.
The law enforcers on Saturday night laid siege to Khaleda’s Gulshan office forcing her along with a few female leaders to stay inside.
She was not allowed to leave the office following the police action, party leaders said.
Four sand and brick laden trucks were placed blocking the road to Khaleda’s office at around midnight on Sunday.
The police also took position in front of acting BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam’s Uttara house.
The prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, however, ruled out BNP’s allegation that its Khaleda had been confined to her Gulshan office and termed it a drama.
‘Khaleda Zia is not confined to her Gulshan office…Who has confined her? She can move to her house any time,’ Hasina said while exchanging views with leaders of Bangladesh Chhatra League at her official residence Ganabhaban on Sunday evening.
The law enforcers allowed none excepting a group of lawyers and a team of journalists to enter Khaleda’s office to meet her.
Former president AQM Badruddoza Chowdhury was also barred by the police from entering the office.
Khaleda on Sunday asked the leaders and activists of the BNP-led alliance to hold their planned rally on Monday in the city defying the ban.
She made the call while a group of journalists led by Shawkat Mahmud met with her on Sunday afternoon at her Gulshan office, besieged by the law enforcers since Saturday night.
Emerging from the office at about 3:15pm, Shawkat Mahmud conveyed Khaleda’s message to waiting reporters in front of the office.
Khaleda will hold the rally at any cost and continue the movement, Shawkat said.
Earlier, the Supreme Court Bar Association president, Khandaker Mahbub Hossain, also the Bangladesh Bar Council vice-chairman, along with some other lawyers, came out of the office at about 3:10pm after an hour-long meeting with Khaleda.
Khandker Mahbub told reporters that the BNP chief urged people and all the parties to join the movement for saving democracy and voting rights without waiting for her directions as she was confined.
The police also kept locked the BNP central office at Nayapaltan, party leaders alleged.
Khaleda was staying at her office for the second night on Sunday.
Khaleda Zia at about 11:45pm on Saturday tried to go out to visit BNP joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi Ahmed, who was reportedly admitted to Apollo Hospital in the city in police custody. The police, however, did not allow her to leave the office.
The police action came amid simmering tension over counter programmes of the ruling Awami League and the BNP over the one year of the January 5, 2014 elections, boycotted by all opposition parties.
Police in riot gear were seen deployed in front of the office, while Rapid Action Battalion personnel took position in front of Khaleda’s Gulshan house restricting traffic in the areas.
Armoured personnel vehicles and water cannons were kept standby at both the places.
A platoon of female police was also deployed in front of Khaleda’s office.
Earlier, Rizvi was taken to Apollo Hospital from the BNP central office at about 11:00pm on Saturday in an ambulance under police protection, party sources said.
Paltan police station officer-in-charge Morshed Alam said that the police took him to the hospital after he suddenly fell sick.

Source: New Age