Police on Tuesday barred a silent sit-in organised by Shoto Nagarik, a civil society platform leaning to opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, demanding release of the party chairperson Khaleda Zia, on Central Shaheed Minar premises in the capital.
The eminent citizens tried to hold the silent sit-in twice on the premises, but they were forced to leave the place, witnesses said.
Police said that there was no permission to hold the programme, prompting police to turn them away.
Khaleda, a former prime minister, is now in jail since February 8 in a case of alleged misappropriation of money of Zia Orphanage Trust, which BNP alleged politically motivated.
Witnesses said that some 50 to 60 eminent citizens, led by former Dhaka University vice-chancellor Emajuddin Ahamed, went to Central Shaheed Minar about 10:30am.
As they were preparing for the sit-in, about 50 police personnel, who took position in the area earlier, came in and asked them to leave the place.
The eminent citizens including Professor Anwarullah Chowdhury, ZN Tahmida Begum, Professor Tajmeri S Islam, MA Aziz, Professor Mahbub Ullah and poet Abdul Hye Sikder left the place as police obstructed them, witnesses said.
Talking to journalists, Emajuddin said, ‘We came here with a humanitarian appeal for releasing Khaleda Zia, but police even did not allow us to unfold the banner’.
About 11:00am, another group of noted citizens, led by Gonoshasthaya Kendra trustee Zafrullah Chowdhury, went to the venue.
They stayed there about 15 minutes before police asked them to leave the place.
Shahbagh police officer-in-charge Abul Hasan told New Age that the organisers did not take permission to hold the programme.
‘We just turned them away with due respect,’ he said.
Shoto Nagarik in a press release said it was unfortunate that they were forced to postpone their peaceful programme in the face of police obstruction. ‘It tells the current status of democracy in the country,’ it said.
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