Bangladesh Nationalist Party on Wednesday demanded the resignation of the government led by prime minister Sheikh Hasina before announcement of the schedule of the 11th parliamentary polls, scheduled later this year.
The party made the demand while observing countrywide token hunger strike for unconditional release and proper medical treatment of the party’s jailed chairperson Khaleda Zia.
BNP said police arrested 107 leaders and activists of the party and its front organisations in Dhaka on their way to and from the hunger strike organised on the premises of Institution of Engineers’ Bangladesh.
BNP senior joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi at a news briefing at the party’s central office said at least 151 leader and activists across the country were arrested since Tuesday.
BNP announced the two-hour token hunger strike at metropolitan cities and district headquarters across the country from 10:00 am.
Hunger strike was observed areas including Chattogram, Khulna, Barishal and Lakshmipur.
Pro-BNP teachers and staff of Jahangirnagar University observed the hunger striker on the university campus.
In Dhaka city, presiding over the hunger strike, BNP standing committee member Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain reiterated the demand of incumbent government’s resignation, dissolution of parliament, formation of poll-time neutral government and reconstitution of the Election Commission before the announcement of the schedule of the 11th parliamentary polls.
He also demanded deployment of army during the polls for fair and participatory polls.
He said no participatory election would be held without Khaleda Zia and BNP and warned that no election would be allowed to hold without Khaleda and BNP.
Former Dhaka University vice-chancellor Emajuddin Ahamed broke the hunger strike offering water to the party senior leaders around 12:10 pm.
Political scientist Emajuddin observed that the next general election would be very significant for restoring the democracy, saying that for making the polls meaningful the parliament has to be dissolved, all leaders and the activists of BNP, including Khaleda Zia, have to be released from jail and ‘military officials’ have to be given the full authorities for ‘controlling’ the law enforcement agencies during the election.
Leaders and activists of BNP and its front and associate organisations gathered at the IEB premises from 9:00 am to join hunger strike.
Uniformed and plainclothes police were deployed in the surrounding areas of the venue.
Khandaker Mosharraf claimed that now consensus was established among people and different political parties across the country that the next general election must be neutral and participatory.
He said friendly countries of Bangladesh were stating for holding the election participatory.
The standing committee member said that the election like January 5, 2014 would never return to the country, saying that BNP would join the poll after freeing Khaleda.
He asked the police to stop mass arrest of the party leaders and activists, saying that they were not the officials and employees of Awami League but of the republic.
BNP standing committee member Moudud Ahmed said street movement is the only way to free Khaleda, saying that the current movement would be intensified into the final stage to topple the government.
He said that they would give such programme that boat, the election symbol of rival Awami League, would be floated away.
Leaders of BNP-led alliance, including Mia Golam Parwar of Jamaat-e-Islami, general secretary of Jatiya Ganatantrik Party Khandaker Lutfar Rahman expressed solidarity with the strike.
Standing committee member Goyeshwar Chandra Roy urged the party leaders and activists to remain alert about the party persons who might attempt to join the election under Hasina.
Another standing committee member Mirza Abbas said they would free Khaleda at any cost and would go to the poll along with her.
BNP leaders including Abdul Moyeen Khan, Nazrul Islam Khan, Selima Rahman, Mohammad Shahjahan, AZM Zahid Hossain, Ahmed Azam Khan, Abdus Salam, Amanullah Aman, Zainul Abdin Farroque, Abul Khaer Bhuiyan, Habibur Rahman Habib, Ataur Rahman Dhali, Syed Emran Saleh Prince and Nazimuddin Alam addressed the hunger strike jointly conducted by publicity secretary Shahiduddin Chowdhury Annie and assistant organising secretary Abdus Salam Azad.
At the day’s news briefing, Rizvi said the government set a new trap of arresting the party leaders and activists by providing permission to organise the party’s programmes.
He alleged that police had cordoned off residence of BNP vice-chairman Hafizuddin Ahmed at Banani from morning before the beginning of the hunger strike.