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Dhaka Tribune

Senior BNP leaders go into hiding

Update : 11 Nov 2013, 05:53 AM

Fearing arrest and police raids, senior leaders of main opposition BNP have gone into hiding, with many of them also switching off their mobile phones.

“If we all get arrested, then how will we carry on our movement? So, hiding is a strategy of the movement,” said Fazlul Haque Milon, organizing secretary (Dhaka division) of the BNP, who has been in hiding since Friday night.

On Friday, just hours after the opposition alliance announced a 72-hour nationwide hartal, BNP Standing Committee members Moudud Ahmed, MK Anwar and Rafiqul Islam Miah were arrested, while BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia’s Adviser Abdul Awal Mintoo and her Special Assistant Shamsur Rahman Shimul Biswas were also picked up separately.

Later, law enforcers also carried out raids at the homes of a number of senior leaders of the 18-party alliance, prompting other leaders of the alliance to go into hiding.

A huge number of law enforcers had also been deployed in front of the BNP headquarters since Friday night.

Only BNP Joint Secretary General Ruhul Kabir Rizvi and Executive Committee member Billal Hossain were seen at the party’s Nayapaltan central office on the first day of the 84-hour hartal on Sunday.

While visiting the residences of some BNP senior leaders, it was found that most leaders were not in their houses. However, BNP leaders who were also retired army officials were available both at their homes and over the phone.

When this reporter visited the Shahjahanpur residence of BNP Standing Committee member Mirza Abbas, his Personal Secretary Md Anisur Rahman said: “Sir had not been at home for some days.” Anisur also said a large number of police had been patrolling the area since Saturday noon.

Visits to the Gulshan and Gopibag houses of BNP Vice-President Sadeque Hossain Khoka revealed that the leader was not available at either houses.

BNP Member Secretary Abdus Salam and the party’s Human Rights Affairs Secretary Nasir Uddin Ahmed Ashim were also not available at their respective homes.

Meanwhile, none of the senior BNP leaders including the party’s acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir were available on the phone, with the exceptions of Lt Gen (retd) Mahbubur Rahman and Brig Gen (retd) ASM Hannan Shah.

The senior leaders of the 18-party were not staying in their homes because of harassment from the government and law enforcers, Lt Gen (retd) Mahbubur Rahman told the Dhaka Tribune.

“Police arrested opposition party’s senior leaders without any allegation, which is not positive for country’s democracy and the people did not accept it easily,” he said.

“The arrest of the opposition leaders has not interrupted the anti-government movement, but it will rather strengthen the movement,” Mahbubur added.

Meanwhile, activist and supporters of BNP have been expressing dissatisfaction at the decision made by the party’s frontline leaders to go into hiding.

Arifuzzaman, an activist of Khilgaon thana BNP told the Dhaka Tribune: “I am very upset because the party’s senior leaders are hiding. If they [senior leaders] go into hiding repeatedly, how will the anti-government movement continue?” he raised doubts.

Seeking anonymity, several activists and ward leaders of the main opposition also expressed similar dissatisfaction to the Dhaka Tribune.

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