12:00 AM, April 21, 2012 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, April 21, 2012

Ilias Ali Still Missing

BNP threatens non-stop hartal

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Staff Correspondent

The BNP plans a ceaseless agitation programme, including blockade and non-stop hartal, to mount pressure on the government to rescue party leader Ilias Ali, who went missing on Tuesday night.
In protest, the main opposition party has already enforced hartals in four districts in Sylhet division, where Ilias comes from, and is set to enforce a nationwide dawn-to-dusk shutdown tomorrow.
After tomorrow's hartal, the BNP high command may announce blockade programmes in Dhaka and Sylhet if Ilias Ali still remained missing, party insiders told have The Daily Star.
"Ceaseless hartals will be called if Ilias Ali remains untraced," warned BNP acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir at a party meeting in the capital yesterday.
BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia has already approved such programmes in consultation with her party colleagues, insiders said, adding that the issue had also been discussed with the leaders of the newly-formed 18-party alliance, which the BNP leads.
The alliance partners apart, Bikalpa Dhara Bangladesh of Bodruddoza Chowdhury yesterday extended support for tomorrow's hartal, added the sources.
Ilias, 51, was on his way to his Banani residence in the capital by his private car when he went missing. Ansar Ali, the driver of the car, also remains traceless since. The car was found abandoned near Amtali of Banani with all its four doors wide open.
The government could not do anything to find him out in the last three days, Mirza Fakhrul said, adding: “We've no option but to wage an oust-government movement."
Reacting to Home Minister Shahara Khatun's call to withdraw tomorrow's hartal, he said his party would do so only if the missing party leader returns.
The BNP Chairperson on Thursday alleged some government agencies had picked up Ilias Ali. On the same day, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said Ilias might be hiding himself on Khaleda Zia's instructions.
Law enforcers have launched a probe into the matter.
In the wake of growing concern over the issue, Khaleda has postponed her Monday's programme in Rajbari. She has been holding a series of meetings with leaders of her party and alliance partners to decide on her next move, party sources said.
Protesting the missing, Swadhinata Forum, a pro-BNP organisation, formed a human chain in front of the Jatiya Press Club yesterday morning, demanding immediately rescue of Ilias Ali, a former lawmaker from Sylhet-2.
BNP standing committee members MK Anwar, Mirza Abbas and Goyeshwar Chandra Roy, among others, were present.
Speaking at the programme, MK Anwar said if the BNP was voted to power, it would try Sheikh Hasina and her cabinet colleagues on charges of "kidnapping" Ilias Ali.
Later at a press conference at the press club, student leaders of the 1990s demanded that the government return Ilias and his driver without further delay.
Former vice-president of Dhaka University Central Students Union and BNP leader Amanullah Aman told the press conference that Ilias may have fallen victim to national and international conspiracies for protesting the border killings by the Indian border force and also the construction of Tipaimukh Dam by the neighbouring country.
Protests also continued in Sylhet for the second consecutive day yesterday.
BNP's Biswanath upazila unit in Sylhet put up barricade on the Dhaka-Sylhet highway at 4:30pm and held a protest rally. Police cleared the street an hour later.
Veteran Awami League leader Abdul Jalil has said the authorities concerned should find out Ilias Ali for creating a congenial political atmosphere in which democracy can flourish.
“There can be differences of political ideologies and opinions among us but none has the right to kidnap any political worker,” said Jalil, also the former general secretary of the ruling party, at a discussion at Dhaka Reporters' Unity yesterday.
“Nobody [government and opposition] will benefit through blaming each other. As we're in power, it's our responsibility to unearth the matter and inform the nation,” added the AL lawmaker.

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