12:00 AM, January 23, 2014 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:53 AM, March 08, 2015

BNP back-flips on death claim

BNP back-flips on death claim

Rashidul Hasan and Prabir Barua Chowdhury

The BNP yesterday claimed 294 activists of the 18-party alliance were killed in last three months but went on to bring the figure down significantly when enquired by the media.
At a press conference at the party's central office in the capital, BNP acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir alleged that besides the 294 killed, 187 others disappeared during the period.
He then released a list of victims which, contrary to his earlier account, contained the names of 170 "dead" and of 32 people who allegedly went missing.
However, hours after the briefing, when a BBC Bangla service correspondent asked for clarification, Fakhrul gave a different statement.
"294 is the total number of victims of killings and forced disappearance," he told the BBC.
When contacted, State Minister for Home Affairs Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said the figures presented by the BNP was not correct.
"There are some people of the 18-party alliance who are accused in cases filed for the attacks on the Hindus and are currently absconding. The BNP is describing these absconding party activists as victims of forced disappearance," he told The Daily Star over the telephone.
In his first press conference since the January 5 national elections boycotted by the BNP-led 18-party alliance, Mirza Fakhrul went on to allege that as many as 4,551 cases were filed against 2.2 lakh leaders and activists of the alliance between November and January.
He also expressed concerns over what he called "gross violation of human rights" in the country through extra-judicial killings, disappearances and false cases against the "opposition"  men.
He also urged international rights bodies to probe the "extra-judicial killings" during the recent joint forces operations.
"The international rights organisations should come forward and probe the matter," he said.
When contacted for his remarks on the allegations yesterday, Inspector General of Police Hassan Mahmood Khandker declined to comment immediately.
"I would be able to comment on this only after getting the list," the police chief told The Daily Star.
This was the first time the BNP came up with a list containing the names of the opposition men who died at the hands of law enforcers. In several occasions earlier, the party raised such allegations but never came up with the names of the victims. One glaring example of this was when the BNP alleged that the law enforcement agencies had carried out "genocide" on Hefajat-e Islam during their Dhaka siege programme on May 5 last year. But it could not present a list of the killed to back its claim.
During yesterday's press briefing, Fakhrul also criticised Awami League General Secretary Syed Ashraful Islam who had described BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia's remarks on Indian forces' participation in the joint forces operation in Satkhira as "seditious".
"I do not know why and in what condition he [Ashraf] said this. But he did not tell the truth," he said.



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