An uneventful sit-in staged by BNP in front of Jatiya Press Club was foiled when plainclothes policemen swooped on Chhatra Dal leader Mizanur Rahman Raju yesterday.
BNP leaders and activists began to gather well ahead of the programme amid a large presence of law enforcers and riot control vehicles.
They started the sit-in around 11:00am with senior leaders including Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir demanding release of BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia. Traffic crawled to a halt as hundreds of BNP supporters stood on the road.
With slogans and speeches, the programme was about to end around 11:47am when plainclothes policemen attempted to pick up Chhatra Dal Dhaka north President Mizanur Rahman Raju.
To avoid arrest, he held on to Mirza Fakhrul Islam, who was nearby. As policemen swooped on him and grabbed him, he fell to the ground along with Fakhrul, prompting other leaders to rush towards them, according to witnesses.
As a confused scuffle broke out between police and activists, the entire programme was thrown into disarray.
Raju's clothes were torn by the time police had handcuffed him and carried him to a vehicle.
Before leaving, Fakhrul told reporters that police foiled their “peaceful programme” without any provocation.
BNP leaders later briefed reporters at the party's Nayapaltan office.
District and city BNP units across the country would hold programmes tomorrow to protest the incident, Fakhrul said.
He added that the manner in which BNP leaders and activists were being arrested was similar to that of “Gestapo Force” of Hitler.
“All the programmes we observed since our party chairperson was sent to jail were peaceful. But police foiled our programmes without any instigation and arrested our leaders and activists.”
Police, however, claimed that they did not foil the sit-in but only arrested Raju because he was accused in a number of cases.
“We did not foil their programme. BNP leaders would be able to tell why they could not observe the programme.... We arrested the Chhatra Dal leader as there are some cases against him,” Devdas Bhattacharya, additional commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police, said.
“We did not attack on BNP's programme. We do not know whether they have any internal issues.”