Bangladesh Nationalist Party’s sit-in in Dhaka was foiled in police action as plainclothes and uniformed cops swooped on the programme to arrest Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal leader Mizanur Rahman Raj in front of the National Press of Club on Thursday.
Police arrested the Dhaka north city unit Chhatra Dal president and dragged him to vehicle with torn shirt while several hundred activists and leaders were seen moving to and fro to save them.
BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir at a impromptu news conference at the party’s central office at Nayapaltan announced ‘protest programme’ at thanas in Dhaka city for Saturday against the ‘police attack’.
He condemned the police ‘attack’ and demanded immediate release of the arrested leaders and activists including Mizanur.
BNP staged the sit-in as part of its countrywide programme for unconditional release of the jailed party chairperson Khaleda Zia.
Leaders and activists of BNP and its front and associate organisations started to gather at about 10:00am.
A number of activists carried miniature black flags inscribed with demand of Khaleda’s release. Many protestors chanted slogans for movement and fall of the government.
The sit-in led by Fakhrul was scheduled to continue for one hour till noon.
At about 11:50am a chaotic situation was created as plainclothes attempted to pick up Chhatra Dal leader Mizanur from the programme but he managed to escape and came to senior BNP leaders.
Later, in support of the additional cops in uniform the plainclothes scuffled with the senior leaders and took away Mizanur dragging with torn shirt. Some leaders including BNP vice-chairman Abdul Awal Mintoo was injured in the tussle.
BNP publicity secretary Shahiduddin Chowdhury Annie repeatedly asked the police not to disrupt the programme.
Fakhrul could not complete his speech at the sit-in and expressed hatred to the police and demanded the government’s resignation.
Later about 11:55am, Annie declared the end of the sit-in.
Police arrested Jatiyatabadi Swechchhasebok Dal president Shafiul Bari Babu on Tuesday during BNP’s human chain in front of the National Press Club.
Earlier on February 24, police foiled BNP’s black-flag demonstration in front of its central office at Nayapaltan charging baton and using water cannon. Police had arrested several leaders and activists including joint secretary general Syed Moazzem Hossain Alal at the programme.
Police had also disrupted BNP’s token hunger strike in front of National Press Club on February 14 and plainclothes attempted to arrest BNP joint secretary general Habib-un-Nabi Khan Sohel.
BNP staged sit-in at places including Chittagong, Khulna, Rajshahi, Barisal, Munshiganj and Meherpur on Thursday.
Fakhrul at the news conference said that the home minister stated that the government would not obstruct peaceful programme, but police continued obstructing peaceful programmes of BNP. He termed such police actions unjust.
He said that the government in a planned way was creating atmosphere so that BNP could not hold any programme in future.
The Dhaka Special Judge’s Court-5 on February 8 jailed Khaleda for five years in Zia Orphanage Trust graft case.
He said that BNP was carrying out peaceful programmes while the government was provoking the party arresting leaders and activists ‘unlawfully.’
Fakhrul said that 5,000 BNP leaders and activists were arrested across the country in the past few days.
He said that law enforcers verbally told them to hold the sit-in and at their suggestion the venue was shifted in front of National Press Club from in front of BNP central office.
The starting of the sit-in was good but all on a sudden plainclothes swooped on Mizanur and tussled to forcibly pick him up, he said.
Fakhrul became critical of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police for still not giving permission to hold public meeting at Suhrawardy Udyan on March 12.
DMP authority told a BNP delegation on Thursday that they would inform about the permission after receiving intelligence report, the BNP leader said adding that the government people committed act of sabotage and staged violence entering peaceful democratic programmes of the party.