The Bangladesh Nationalist Party on Thursday observed ‘mass hunger strike’ across the country in demand of the release of party chairperson Khaleda Zia from jail.
Token hunger strike programmes were observed at district headquarters and metropolitan cities.
In Dhaka, BNP observed the five-hour hunger strike that started at 10:00am at Mohanagar Natyamancha.
BNP claimed police arrested several leaders and activists during its programmes across the country.
BNP’s secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir in a statement condemned and protested at the arrests and demanded immediate release of the party activists.
Addressing the programme, BNP standing committee member Moudud Ahmed urged the party activists to get prepared for most fierce movement if the activists ‘truly want to release Khaleda Zia from jail.’
He said the movement would continue until an atmosphere for free, fair and neutral election and release of Khaleda Zia was not be ensured.
Several hundred leaders and activists of BNP and its front and associate organisations participated in protests amid tight police security.
Khaleda Zia was sentenced to seven years imprisonment by a Dhaka court in Zia Charitable Trust corruption case on October 29.
On the other hand, day after the verdict the High Court division enhanced Khaleda’s jail term to ten years from five years in Zia Orphanage Trust corruption case in response to an appeal petition filed by Anti-Corruption Commission.
Former Dhaka University vice-chancellor Emajuddin Ahamed broke the hunger strike offering water to the hunger strikers at about 3:10pm.
Emajuddin Ahamed said there was no way to free Khaleda Zia except movement.
BNP standing committee member Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain said 11th parliamentary election would not be held if Khaleda Zia was not released.
Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (Rob) general secretary Abdul Malek Ratan, Jatiya Ganatanrik Party general secretary Khandaker Lutfar Rahman, Bangladesh Labour Party faction chairman Mustafizur Rahman Iran and Mushtaq Ahmed of Gono Forum expressed solidarity with the hunger strikers.
Expressing solidarity with the hunger strike, the Nagorik Oikya convener Mahmudur Rahman Manna said the government was compelled to call for the dialogue under the pressure of people.
BNP leaders said cops arrested BNP’s Chattogram divisional unit assistant organising secretary Jalal Uddin Majumdar from the hunger strike programme in Dhaka.
New Age staff correspondent in Sylhet reported that Sylhet district and city units of the BNP on Thursday observed a mass hunger strike on Central Shaheed Minar premises at Chowhatta in the city as part of party’s countrywide programme.
Local BNP leaders in a rally held during the mass hanger strike between 10:00am and 1:00pm, demanded unconditional release of Khaleda.
Among others, BNP chairperson’s adviser MA Haque, the city unit vice-president Saleh Ahmed Khasru, among others, addressed the rally, with city vice-president Humayun Kabir Shahin in the chair.
New Age Correspondent in Jashore reported that police arrested three Juba Dal activists including its Jashore branch organising secretary Kabir Hossain Babu after the programme.
Besides Dinajpur district unit joint convener Mokarram Hossain, Dhaka city Kotwali police station unit president Haider Ali Babla, Chapainawabganj district Juba Dal president Obaed Pathan, among others, were arrested, it claimed.
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