The BNP-led 20-party alliance yesterday brought out black flag processions in the capital and elsewhere in the country to condemn the Israeli military offensive against Gaza civilians.
The processions, the first street programme by the opposition combine since the January 5 national election, urged world leaders to take immediate measures to stop the killing of innocent Palestinians.
In Dhaka, thousands of leaders and activists of the BNP and its allies took part in the procession from the BNP's Nayapaltan headquarters around 3:40pm. A good number of processionists were from the Jamaat-e-Islami and its student front Islami Chhatra Shibir.
Different roads connected with Nayapaltan and Malibagh saw tailbacks for several hours because of the programme.
Amid tight security and vigilance by law enforcement agencies, the opposition activists, wearing black badges, ended the march at Malibagh intersection peacefully.
Several hundred police personnel were deployed at different points on the procession route. Armoured personnel carriers, water cannons and prison vans were there.
Meanwhile, BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia last night said the government move to restore parliament's authority to impeach judges is aimed to control the judiciary.
She said this while exchanging greetings with the Hindu-Bouddha-Christian Kalyan Front, a pro-BNP organisation, at her Gulshan office.
Lambasting the national broadcast policy, the BNP chief said, “It might happen that our programmes will not be allowed to be broadcast [on television] after some days.”
She alleged the Awami League is undermining its leader [Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman] by indulging in widespread extortion from businesses in the name of observing August 15 (national mourning day).
Earlier in the day, top leaders of the 20-party coalition took part in the procession to protest the Israeli offensive against Gaza.
On Friday, Dhaka Metropolitan Police gave permission to the BNP-led alliance to carry out its programme. They, however, set conditions that anti-government provocative words must not be used, sticks must not be carried, and the procession must end before sunset, according to BNP sources.
After the January 5 election, boycotted by the BNP-led alliance and most other political parties, the DMP on several occasions denied the BNP permission to hold rallies or processions in the city.
Before yesterday's procession, Mirza Abbas, the new convener of Dhaka city BNP, delivered a brief speech from a makeshift dais on an open truck. He instructed party leaders and activists not to raise anti-government slogans in the procession as the programme was meant to protest the Israeli offensive.
BNP acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said their demonstration was to let the world community know the people of Bangladesh were with the oppressed Palestinians.
More than 1,900 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have died since the fighting began in Gaza on July 8. Sixty-four Israeli soldiers have been killed in the violence and three civilians in Israel have also died.
Israel and the Palestinians began a fresh five-day ceasefire in Gaza on August 14.