Opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party on Saturday observed the 83rd anniversary of the birth of the late president Ziaur Rahman vowing to free imprisoned chairperson of the party Khaleda Zia and establish democracy.
Leaders and activists of the party and its front organisations, led by BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, paid tribute to the memory of Zia placing wreaths at his graveside at Sher-e-Bangla Nagar in Dhaka around 10:30am.
The leaders and activists also offered fateha seeking divine peace of the departed soul of Zia who founded the party in 1978.
Born on January 19, 1936 at Gabtoli in Bogra, Zia was the country’s 7th president.
After placing wreaths, Mirza Fakhrul said that the ruling Awami League was celebrating victory to divert public attention from ‘vote robbery’ in December 30 parliament polls.
Talking to journalists, he said they (Awami League) were celebrating the festival of ‘grabbing’ power through vote ‘robbery’.
‘Democracy was defeated on December 30 and Awami League suffered the worst defeat being isolated from people,’ the secretary general said.
The ruling Awami League held a rally at Suhrawardy Udyan in Dhaka on Saturday to celebrate its victory in the 11th parliament poll.
Fakhrul said the party leaders and activists pledged on the birth day of Zia to establish democracy through freeing imprisoned Khaleda Zia and bringing back the party’s acting chairman Tarique Rahman to the country.
Tarique has been staying in London since 2008.
A Dhaka lower court sentenced the BNP chief to five years in jail in a graft case on February 8 last and sent to jail.
Asked about tension with Jatiya Oikya Front as BNP did not take part in the last meeting of the front on Thursday, Fakhrul, also the front’s spokesperson, said there was no conflict between BNP and JOF.
He claimed that the front and BNP-led alliance would remain.
Asked about schisms inside the party, Fakhrul said BNP was united as ever.
BNP took up two-day programmes to celebrate the day.
Party flag was hoisted atop its offices across the country and Doctors Association of Bangladesh organised a free medical camp in front of BNP’s central office at Nayapaltan on Saturday marking Zia’s birth anniversary.
The party also held a discussion at Supreme Court Bar auditorium on Friday to observe the birth anniversary.
BNP’s all units including districts, metropolitan cities, upazilas and municipalities observed the party founder’s birth anniversary, the party leaders said.
During the country’s War of Independence in 1971, Zia was initially a sector commander and later as brigade commander commanded 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’s crackdown on unarmed Bengalis on the night of March 25, 1971, made Zia a household name throughout Bangladesh.
He rose to power on November 7, 1975 following the coup of mid-August and the counter-coup of November 3.
In April 1977, he became president of the country.
Zia was assassinated by a group of army officers at Chattogram Circuit house on May 30 in 1981.
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