BNP leaders in Dhaka and adjoining districts, who had drawn a lot of flak from within the party over their failure to mobilize activists during their previous anti-government movements, have expressed their firm determination to take to the streets to protest any “negative” verdict in a graft case against their party chief, Khaleda Zia.
During a 90-day countrywide blockade enforced by the BNP-led 20-party alliance against the government in 2015, BNP leaders, particularly those of Dhaka city unit, failed to make their movement a success.
Instead, leaders of the ruling Awami League were seen dominating the major cities during the movements that caused immense frustration among BNP men at the grassroots level.
On Saturday, during an executive committee meeting of BNP at a Dhaka hotel, several district-level leaders alleged that they were frustrated over central leaders’ passive stance in the past.
Khaleda at the meeting instructed her party leaders to hold demonstrations in a peaceful and democratic manner over the verdict, should be found guilty. The verdict is scheduled to be delivered today.
When contacted, several BNP leaders in Dhaka said they were all set to take to the streets and hold massive demonstrations if the verdict goes against Khaleda.
However, the prevalent scenario is indicating otherwise as the party is marching ahead without a concrete plan to register their protests.
On the one hand, they are expressing their firm determination to be on the streets, and on the other hand they have alleged that they are unable to organize themselves, as law enforcers continue to arrest them in “politically motivated” cases.
Law enforcers, assisted by leaders and activists of Awami League, are keeping BNP men under close surveillance so that they cannot organize themselves centring on the verdict, they further alleged.
Police have detained over 1,100 leaders and activists of BNP in the last couple of days, the party’s Senior Joint Secretary General Ruhul Kabir Rizvi claimed on Tuesday.
Singing the same tune, leaders and activists in Savar, Keraniganj and Gazipur alleged that police had arrested the party’s key leaders in the areas.
Speaking to the Dhaka Tribune, Biplob Dewan, a BNP leader in Savar, said law enforcers started raiding the houses of BNP men across the country as soon as the date for delivering the judgment was announced.
He, however, added: “Our leaders and activists know what they should do to dodge law enforcers. Though many of us are on the run, we will be back on the streets to stage demonstrations in a peaceful and democratic manner.”
Asked about their inactivity during the previous anti-government movements, Masum Hasan, organizing secretary of BNP’s youth wing Bangladesh Jatiyatabadi Jubo Dal, said they were now much more organized then before.
“We are ready to take control of Dhaka streets.”
As the BNP top brass has called for peaceful protest programs, Masum said they were careful so that none from their camp could resort to violence and that they would organize nonviolent movements such as hunger strike and demonstrations.
“The fact that we were kind of inactive during our previous movements is not entirely false. But, I can certainly tell you that we are now well organized, and this time you will definitely notice a change in the political scenario of Dhaka,” BNP’s volunteer front Swechchhasebak Dal President Shafiul Bari Babu said, while taking to the Dhaka Tribune correspondent.
“Whether it is a hunger strike or a demonstration or any other peaceful means of protest, leaders and activists of our party will be on streets to show that we are still capable enough to fight against all odds and conspiracies.”
Al Mehedi Talukdar, president of the Dhaka University unit of Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal, echoed Shafiul, saying all leaders and activists of the BNP’s student front would take position on the streets to protest.