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Dhaka Tribune

Obstructed, Khaleda shifts march

Update : 29 Dec 2013, 07:11 PM

Being barred from staging the “March for Democracy” and the Nayapaltan rally, the BNP-Jamaat-led opposition alliance have announced continuing the march today and staging sit-ins at the transport terminals around the country until the polls schedules were cancelled.

On the other hand, the ruling Awami League has said their leaders and activists will remain vigilant on the streets of Dhaka to resist the opposition’s programme.

Yesterday, opposition leader Khaleda Zia, who had earlier said she was determined to attend the Nayapaltan rally, was not allowed to come out of her Gulshan residence by law enforcers.

In a rare unscheduled encounter with journalists in front of her residence, the former premier announced extending the Dhaka march for today.

In a press conference soon after at the National Press Club, BNP Vice-Chairman Major (retd) Hafiz Uddin Ahmed, who was later arrested, announced that the opposition men would stage sit-ins at the bus, train and launch terminals around the country until the schedule for the 10th parliamentary polls were cancelled.

Dhaka city unit Awami League Secretary Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury Maya told the Dhaka Tribune that the leaders and activists of the ruling party would continue to roam around the streets to counter the opposition activists.

In the wake of the opposition announcing to continue its march today, Wing Commander ATM Habibur Rahman said yesterday that around 6,000 RAB members would remain deployed today. 

Col Ziaul Ahsan, additional director general of RAB, said 31 check-posts in and around the capital would continue to remain in place to alongside special drives by police and Border Guard Bangladesh.

Yesterday morning, a Shibir activist was killed in a clash with police at Malibagh. In the afternoon, a railway security personnel was killed in a bomb blast at the Kamalapur Railway Station.

Opposition leaders had been saying for the past few days that hundreds of thousands of their leaders and activists had converged to Dhaka to make the Nayapaltan rally successful, for which they had been denied permission by Dhaka Metropolitan Police.

However, in reality, the ruling party activists were more active on the city streets.

The pro-BNP-Jamaat journalists agitating at the National Press Club and lawyers on the Supreme Court premises were the only visible presence of opposition men in Dhaka.

In the afternoon, stick wielding activists of the Awami League stormed into the Supreme Court premises, physically assaulting some pro-BNP lawyers, who were demonstrating at the main gate. They dragged a female lawyer out, nearly stripping her.

“The response to the Dhaka March has caused two problems for the government. If they allow us next day, it will be a victory for us. Again, the government will have to enforce strikes to stop us,” said BNP Standing Committee Member Lt Gen (retd) Mahbubur Rahman.

The city streets wore a deserted look yesterday with virtually no public transport available because of tight security measures.

Most people had to rely on rickshaws or on their feet to reach their destinations, although every now and then they were frisked by law enforcers at the numerous check-posts set up around the city.

Meanwhile, at a separate press conference, Awami League Secretary General Syed Ashraful Islam said: “The Awami League led the country to independence. It is the Awami League’s responsibility to protect the lives and properties of people. The Awami league will do so.”

According to sources, around 50,000 personnel from RAB, BGB and police were deployed in the capital and elsewhere in the country yesterday. 

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