BNP leaders, activists claim road communication with Rajshahi has been snapped to prevent party supporters from attending the rally
Bus services from different districts to Rajshahi have been suspended ahead of the BNP’s divisional rally scheduled for Tuesday.
The party called for the rally to protest vote rigging, rise in the prices of daily commodities, and demand general elections under a neutral caretaker government.
Local BNP leaders and activists claimed that road communication with Rajshahi has been “suddenly” snapped “on purpose” to prevent party supporters from all across the country from attending the rally.
However, Rajshahi District Motor Worker Union general secretary Mahatab Hossain Chowdhury, said that as one of their workers had been assaulted in Bogra recently, following a previously announced protest program, the union had suspended bus services since Monday morning demanding the swift arrest of the perpetrators.
Contacted, Matiul Haque Tito, general secretary of Rajshahi Bus Owners’ Association, said: “There will be a rally in Rajshahi tomorrow [Tuesday]. Earlier, we saw chaos at a Dhaka rally.
“There is panic among everyone, including the [transport] workers, over this. So, due to all the mayhem and the fear of attacks on our vehicles, we have stopped bus services.”
The sudden shutdown has caused immense suffering for passengers since they have been forced to return empty-handed from bus ticket counters. Many had to manage other means of transport to reach their destinations.
Dhaka Tribune’s Naogaon and Chapainawabganj correspondents reported that bus communication between Rajshahi and two districts remained suspended since today morning.
BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia's adviser and former lawmaker Mizanur Rahman Minu said: “The face of Rajshahi has changed in just two days. We sought permission for the rally at three venues. But we are yet to get permission. Moreover, bus-truck services have been suspended here.
“BNP leaders and activists are being threatened. Some of them have been arrested. All this has been happening for the last three days. We are being patient. Hopefully, the administration will grow some sense and finalize a location where we will hold our rally. We want to involve the people peacefully and place our issues before them.”
When asked what the party would do if it failed to obtain permission for the rally from the administration, he said: “We will hold our rally.”
Additional Deputy Commissioner Golam Ruhul Quddus, the spokesperson of Rajshahi Metropolitan Police (RMP), said: “They [BNP leaders] were given verbal permission for the rally. They were also asked to do everything indoors. They will be given a letter regarding this later.”