Moudud Ahmed, Mirza Abbas, Goyeshwar Chandra Roy and 38 other BNP leaders are scheduled to appear today before a Dhaka court that will hold hearings on charge framing in a case related to political violence last year.
The Speedy Trial Court-6 held hearings on August 24 but could not complete them. Along with 23 BNP men, the three senior leaders had to pass almost half the day in court.
The case was filed with Paltan Police station in March 2013, accusing 41 BNP men of being involved in and instigating arson attacks on vehicles and obstructing the work of police during the anti-government agitations.
Of the accused, fifteen remain fugitive.
BNP's acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir and 22 other party men will also have to remain present at the court today for hearings on charge framing in a separate case over street violence last year.
Seven of the accused have been absconding.
Tomorrow, Fakhrul and 25 other BNP men are scheduled to appear before another court in connection with two murder cases filed last year, while Juba Dal President Moazzem Hossain Alal and 41 others will be present at a trial in a separate case before the Speedy Trial Court -6.
In August, police submitted charge sheets in seven cases against BNP men, among whom were Moudud, Fakhrul, Abbas, Goyeshwar, Abdullah Al Noman and Zainal Abdin Farroque.
The accused were charged with creating anarchy, vandalizing and torching vehicles, hurling crude bombs at policemen, assaulting police and obstructing them in the discharge of their duties.
The courts will begin trials in the seven cases any time.
In the last eight months, police have submitted 59 charge sheets against BNP men. Already burdened with busy schedules, they will be absolutely on their feet after police submit more charge sheets, said party leaders and their counsels.
Most of the cases are now at the stage of charge framing.
Accused in 24 cases, Goyeshwar said he has to attend court almost every work day. "It is difficult for me to find time to do other work," he told The Daily Star.
According to Syed Zaynul Abedin Mesbah, a BNP counsel who looks after the cases against BNP leaders, police had filed more than 500 cases only in Dhaka district against around 24,000 BNP leaders and activists in 2013 alone, when the anti-government agitation was at its peak.
About 300 cases were filed with the Paltan and Motijheel police stations. The areas under the two police stations were the hub of the opposition parties' activities.
BNP leader Tariqul Islam said the government is doing this to foil the opposition's movement.
Except for RA Ghani, M Shamsul Islam, Lt Gen (retd) Mahbubur Rahman and Nazrul Islam Khan, all from the 18-member BNP standing committee are facing dozens of cases.
Mirza Fakhrul has been facing more unpleasant experiences. He has already been indicted in at least 15 cases. And he has also been accused in around 37 more cases. Earlier, he was detained thrice and kept in jail for weeks.
BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia was not accused in any case filed in connection with the political violence. But she has been facing five graft cases.
Her elder son, Tarique Rahman, senior vice-president of the BNP, is facing 16 cases, including the one for the August 21 grenade attack. Tarique has been living in London since the middle of 2008.
Leaders and activists of the BNP's front organisations, who in the past used to play an active role in street agitation, also stand accused in dozens of cases.
As many as 106 cases have been filed against Rafiqul Alam Manju, secretary of Dhaka South Jubo Dal; 90 against Abdul Quader Bhuiyan Jewel, president of Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal, and 96 against Habibur Rashid Habib, general secretary of JCD.
Moazzem Hossain Alal and Saiful Alam Nirob, president and general secretary of Juba Dal, have respectively 50 and 92 cases against them.
The experience of Habibun Nabi Khan Sohel, president of Swechchhasebak Dal and secretary of the newly formed convening committee of Dhaka city BNP, shows how cases can keep a leader busy.
Sohel, accused in 70 cases, was scheduled to chair a discussion on August 25 to mark the founding anniversary of Swechchhasebak Dal in the capital. But he announced a postponement of the programme in order to appear before a court.
Sarafat Aki Safu, Swechchhasebak Dal's general secretary, is facing 70 cases.
Many leaders and activists are now behind bars on different charges or are in hiding to avoid arrest in the cases. In such a situation, the BNP is now struggling hard to reorganise itself to wage a fresh agitation against the government.
In the opinion of senior party figures, the BNP founded in 1978 has never experienced such a bad time as it is facing now. Along with organisational weaknesses, the government's tougher stance has made the BNP unable to fight back. This situation has frustrated many grassroots leaders and activists.
“The BNP is passing through the hardest time in its history. The party is facing manifold challenges as well,” BNP standing committee member Lt Gen (retd) Mahbubur Rahman said.
He said the government was desperate to destroy the BNP.
When the BNP was in power in 2001-2006, numerous cases were filed against the AL men who had waged street agitation against the BNP government.
After assuming office in January 2009, the AL-led government withdrew more than 7,000 cases filed against the party's leaders and activists during the BNP's tenure.
The cases were termed “politically motivated”.