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Dhaka Tribune

PM Hasina: No mercy for attempts to disrupt polls

  • Says BNP-Jamaat trying to foil polls
  • It’s not easy to oust government 
  • Vote for Boat for a ‘Smart Bangladesh’
Update : 20 Dec 2023, 10:51 PM

Prime Minister and Awami League President Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday said that the BNP and Jamaat alliance has been carrying out arson attacks to foil the upcoming 12th parliamentary election scheduled on January 7.

Calling upon the country's people to build resistance against arson attacks, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said ousting the government is not as easy as setting a few vehicles on fire.

“I request to you, today everyone must take a stance against bombings, arson attacks and burning people everywhere…Where do they get so much courage to take away people's lives or obstruct people from voting,” asked the prime minister while delivering a speech at the inaugural election campaign rally of the Awami League at the Alia Madrasa ground of Sylhet.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her sister Sheikh Rehana wave Bangladesh’s flag after reaching the stage of Sylhet Govt Alia Madrasa on Wednesday, December 20, 2023. Photo: Ali Asif Shawon

Earlier, after visiting the shrine of Hazrat Shah Jalal (R) in Sylhet hours before the rally, the Awami League President mentioned that the arson attacks in Bangladesh are being orchestrated from London, warning that there will be no mercy for those attempting to disrupt the upcoming election through acts of sabotage.

“An individual issues orders while living in London and his followers set fire here in Bangladesh,” she said.

Condemning the recent arson attacks, Sheikh Hasina said: “Removing railway tracks, killing people, burning them are acts of terrorism… and the BNP-Jamaat alliance has been committing these criminal and terrorist acts.”

About an arson attack on a train on Tuesday that resulted in four casualties, including a woman and her three-year-old son, the prime minister questioned how someone could carry out such an act of violence.

“Attacks on women, children, police, journalists, common people… What kind of politics is this?”

She added that the people would drive out those attempting to sabotage the election by resorting to violence, vowing to take strict action against the people involved in such incidents.

“The people of the country want to vote. They have rejected the BNP’s hartals.”

About the BNP's election boycott, the Awami League chief said it was within a party's right not to take part in an election, but she also asked why people had to be killed through arson attacks.

At the public rally, before thousands of party activists and supporters, the Awami League President warned the arson attackers and said: “They should remember that if they play with fire, it will burn their hands as well.”

The prime minister said the BNP-Jamaat alliance had unleashed a reign of terror to foil the election, adding that none would accept any sort of militant and terrorist activities in Bangladesh.

She said: "If anyone does this, one day the people of the country will throw them out. That is the reality."

The ruling party chief also cautioned against the persons who are behind the recent arson attacks in railways, saying that no mercy will be shown to those involved in arson attacks and killing people.

"We must take stern action against them," Sheikh Hasina said.

Asserting the constitutional right of citizens to vote, Sheikh Hasina declared that no one should obstruct or harm others for exercising their voting rights.

She also said: "They had thought that the government would fall if they set two vehicles on fire. It is not so easy. I don't have rice with milk, that's what I want to say."

The prime minister said that uprooting rail line fishplates and setting fire to rail compartments are terrorist and militant activities, as government properties are the properties of the people.

"And the BNP-Jamaat alliance is indulging in terrorist and militant activities," she said, mentioning that it was in the character of the BNP to burn people alive.

"What type of anti-government movement is that?" she questioned.

The premier said whenever the Awami League forms the government, it ensures welfare for the people, adding that the Awami League government has been meeting the basic needs of the people one after another.

The Awami League president said: "Those who are robbers, murderers, corrupt elements, embezzlers of orphans' money are the ones who burn the people of this country in arson and want to thwart the elections."

Sheikh Hasina also sought votes for the Boat symbol in the upcoming national polls.

"If people cast their votes for the Boat symbol in the January 7 election and if we can form the government again, the remaining needs of the people will also be fulfilled, InshaAllah," she vowed.

She further said: "We will make the whole of Bangladesh developed and prosperous. And no person will be without identity or homeless or landless. We have fulfilled our pledges to make Bangladesh digital, now we aim to make a Smart Bangladesh."

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina reached the venue of the election public rally at the Sylhet Govt Alia Madrasa ground with her younger sister Sheikh Rehana at around 3:10pm.

A huge number of people had gathered there from different districts of Sylhet division since Wednesday morning to hear the message from Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

The leaders and activists were seen waiting for the prime minister's speech, with many of them on the road and on the roofs of houses after not getting space in the field.

After the prime minister’s arrival, a group of local singers performed Shah Abdul Karim's song.

Sheikh Hasina landed at Sylhet Osmani International Airport at 11:40 am and then visited the shrines of Hazrat Shah Jalal (R) and Hazrat Shah Paran (R) before resting at the Sylhet Circuit House.

After lunch there, the prime minister went to address the election rally.

Sylhet City Awami League President Masuk Uddin Ahmed presided over the rally, while Awami League General Secretary and Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader, Presidium Member Zebunnesa Haque, Foreign Minister A K Abdul Momen, Former Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid, Expatriates' Welfare Minister Imran Ahmed, Planning Minister M A Mannan, State Minister for Civil Aviation and Tourism Md Mahbub Ali, Sylhet City Corporation Mayor Anwaruzzaman Chowdhury, Education Minister Dr Dipu Moni, Awami League Organising Secretray Shafiul Alam Chowdhury Nadel, and Actress Tarin Jahan, among others, delivered speeches.

Bangabandhu's younger daughter Sheikh Rehana, Sheikh Helal MP, Prime Minister's Private investment Adviser Salman F Rahman, Awami League election steering committee Co-Chairman Kazi Zafarullah, Presidium member Dr Abdur Razzak, Jahangir Kabir Nanak, Abdur Rahman, Joint General Secretary Dr Hasan Mahmud, Mahbubul Alam Hanif, AFM Bahauddin Nashim and Awami League MPs, mayors and upazila chairmen of Sylhet division were on the rally stage.

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