Police stop Bangladesh Nationalist Party activists as they went to visit the grave of former president of the country Ziaur Rahman at Chandrima Udyan in Dhaka on Monday. — Ali Hossain Mintu
The police on Monday prevented activists of Bangladesh Nationalist Party from visiting the grave of the party founder Ziaur Rahman, when they approached the site to pay homage to the former president on his 79th birth anniversary.
A large contingent of police was deployed to the entrance to the grave complex on Monday morning.
The police put up barricades at both ends of the street, adjacent to the parliament complex, leading to Zia’s grave and suspended traffic on the street since morning.
Water cannon, prison vans and armoured personnel carriers remained standby.
The police detained two people – Nasir and Nirab – from the Bijay Sarani intersection around 11:50am suspecting them to be BNP activists though they said they were passersby.
Police said the security measures were in place in the area, just behind the parliament complex, as the house went into session in the afternoon.
‘Any kinds of rally or gathering have been prohibited in the area as parliament will go into session in the afternoon. No groups will be allowed to gather or take out a march,’ Tejgaon police deputy commissioner Biplab Kumar Sarker told reporters.
Replying to a question, he said individually anyone could visit the grave of Ziaur Rahman to pay respect.
Witnesses said activists of the BNP and its front organisations started gathering in the Chandrima Udyan area since early in the morning but the police refused to let them in. Law enforcers later allowed some leaders to visit the grave individually.
Around 11:00am, some 15 activists, mostly from the BNP’s women front, entered the premises jumping over the fences of Chandrima Udyan.
Minutes later, a group of BNP activists, including executive committee member Mostafizur Rahman Babul, Khandakar Abdul Hamid Dablu and Mahila Dal Dhaka unit president Sultana Ahmed placed a wreath at Zia’s grave. They visited the grave individually.
The police drove them out immediately after placing of wreaths.
Police also barred Zia Sanskritik Sangstha from arranging a blood donation camp at the graveside. They were also forced out.
Two other groups – Jatiyatabadi Muktijoddha Dal and Doctors Association of Bangladesh – reached the Bijay Sarani intersection around 11:30am, but police did not allow them to gather in the area.
Muktijoddha Dal president Ishtiaq Aziz Ulfat told reporters, ‘We came here to pay homage to a freedom fighter and a slain president but the police refused permission … What kind of democracy it is? We condemn the police action.’
BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia or any senior BNP leader did not visit the grave to offer prayers or pay respect.
Police lifted the siege of Khaleda’s Gulshan office on Monday morning. She had been kept confined there since January 3.
BNP and its front organisations usually hold discussions and arrange blood donation and free medical camps and distribution of food to mark Zia’s birth and death anniversaries. But no such programmes were chalked up this year.
BNP also hoists party flag at its offices across the country on the day, but its Naya Paltan central office remained under police siege since January 3.
Zia was born on January 19, 1936 at Bagbari village of Gabtali upazila in Bogra.
During the country’s War of Independence in 1971, Zia was initially made a sector commander before being given the command of the Z-Force. Zia was decorated with the second highest gallantry award of Bir Uttam.
His proclamation from Kalurghat radio station in Chiittagong on March 27, two days after the Pakistan army cracked down on unarmed Bengalis on the night of March 25, 1971, made an unknown Zia a household name throughout Bangladesh.
A military officer, he had also served as the chief of staff of Bangladesh Army.
Zia, the seventh president of Bangladesh, was assassinated by a group of disgruntled army officers at Chittagong Circuit House on the night of May 30, 1981.
Source: New Age