Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan on Tuesday said the commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) would decide whether to allow BNP to hold its planned rally at Suhrawardy Udyan in Dhaka on March 29.
"If the DMP commissioner thinks there's no apprehension of anything bad on March 29, he'll grant permission for the rally. This is his duty," he told reporters at his Bangladesh Secretariat office.
Earlier in the day, a three-member BNP delegation, led by the party’s Standing Committee member Nazrul Islam Khan, met with the minister, seeking permission for their rally.
Asaduzzaman said the BNP delegation urged him to consider the matter. "I'll certainly discuss it with the authorities concerned. I'll ask them whether there's any problem in granting the permission," he said.
Responding to journalists’ queries, he said last year, BNP got permission to hold a rally. "But they haven't got permission yet for the rally this year, because the DMP might have intelligence reports on possible untoward situations centring on the gathering.”
Mentioning that the DMP commissioner bears responsibility for ensuring BNP holds its rally properly and safely, he said that's why he asked for changing the rally venue.
He said DMP may permit BNP to hold the rally if it changes the schedule and venue. "It's our duty to ensure the security of the people so that no untoward situation is created."
The minister refuted BNP’s allegations that its women leaders are being harassed and arrested by law enforcers. He claimed that no one is being held arbitrarily. "Only those who face specific charges are being arrested."
Asaduzzaman also posited that BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia, who has been in jail since February 8 after being convicted in a graft case, is enjoying all the facilities as per the jail code, and BNP leaders have no complaints in this regard.
Talking to reporters after the meeting, BNP leader Nazrul Islam said the minister told them that the government has no objection to holding the rally.
"He (the minister) said he would inform us of their decision after discussion with the authorities concerned. We found him positive in this regard, but we'll wait for his confirmation," Nazrul added.
He said they also discussed the “mass arrests” of their party leaders and activists and repression against them and their families. "We requested him to take measures to stop it. I believe the minister took it seriously."
The team went to the secretariat around 11am and came out at 11:40am.
The two other members of the delegation were BNP Vice-chairmen Maj (retd) Hafiz Uddin Ahmed and Air Vice Marshal (retd) Altaf Hossain Chowdhury.