The Bangladesh Nationalist Party’s defeated city mayoral candidates’ rally in Khulna will be held at Shaheed Maharaj Square in the city today.
Ahead of the rally, transport workers, however, announced a 24-hour bus service suspension on all 18 routes to and from the Khulna city until 6:00pm today claiming that they had made the decision to ensure their safety during the rally.
The Khulna rally, scheduled to be held at 2:30pm, will be the second of six rallies in six cities announced by defeated mayor candidates nominated by BNP in city corporation elections.
The BNP leaders announced on February 5 that they would hold rallies in cities protesting against election fraud in recently held city elections, initiatives to revoke the party founder and late president Ziaur Rahman’s gallantry award and demanding neutral elections across the country and immediate release of BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia.
After holding a meeting of Khulna city and district BNP at its KD Ghosh Road office on Friday on preparations for the rally, the party’s central organising secretary and Khulna city president Nazrul Islam Manju alleged that the police were raiding the houses of BNP leaders and activists to harass them. He also said that they were yet to get any police approval until Friday afternoon to hold the rally.
‘We will hold the pre-scheduled Saturday rally at Shaheed Maharaj Square at 2:30pm at any cost. Our 95 per cent preparations have completed,’ he said.
He alleged that at least 30 BNP leaders and activists in the Khulna city were arrested until Friday afternoon and the bus service was suspended as the police asked the bus owners and workers to do so to hinder BNP’s rally.
All the six defeated city mayoral candidates of BNP would be key speakers in the rally which will be addressed by the party vice-chairman Shahjahan Omar as the chief guest, he said.
Meanwhile, Khulna transport workers began enforcing the 24-hour bus service suspension from Friday 6:00pm as confusion rose following different reasons shown by the transport leaders for the sudden suspension.
A senior leader of Bangladesh Road Transport Workers Federation, the apex body of transport workers, also supported the allegation risen by BNP and added that the police asked them to suspend the bus service in a meeting on Thursday afternoon at Khulna Metropolitan Police headquarters.
The federation’s general secretary Osman Ali, however, told New Age on Friday that the leaders did not announce the strike but the workers made the decision spontaneously to ensure their safety during the rally.
Khulna District Motor Workers’ Union president Kazi Md Nurul Islam Baby claimed that the decision of the ‘work abstention’ was taken on Thursday.
‘We urged the transport owners to grant us one day work abstention from Friday as we did not get any rest after the lockdown had been lifted up,’ he added.
KMP additional deputy commissioner (media and community policing) Kanai Lal Sarkar all the allegations brought against the police were baseless.
About BNP leaders’ claim that police have arrest at least 30 BNP activists, Kanai Lal said that they had not arrested any BNP activist.
‘Police are just doing their routine works,’ he added.
BNP leaders and activists faced obstacles to join the Barishal rally of the defeated candidates on February 18.
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