An almost 24-hour drama ended with his arrest.
In the face of daylong protests by pro-government journalists against his taking shelter in the Jatiya Press Club, BNP acting secretary general Fakhrul Islam Alamgir was about to leave the premises yesterday afternoon.
Flanked by pro-BNP-Jamaat leaders of Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists and Dhaka Union of Journalists, he moved towards the main gate, with pro-government journalists staging angry protests. Terming him a Rajakar and a killer, some journalists spat at him and brandished their shoes.
At one stage, detectives stopped his car, got into it and took him to the DB office on Minto Road around 4:20pm.
Before being whisked away, Fakhrul told The Daily Star, “Our movement will continue, despite arrests of our leaders and activists.”
On Monday afternoon, the BNP leader went to the press club to address a rally and then stayed there overnight to avoid arrest.
Tension ran high in the area since yesterday morning when Projonmo League, a pro-AL organisation, started demonstrating before the press club demanding ouster of all outsiders, including Fakhrul, from the club.
Around midday yesterday, AL Publicity Secretary Hasan Mahmud joined the Projonmo League rally to express solidarity with its demand.
Pro-government journalists then demonstrated inside the press club for over an hour, demanding ouster of all “outsiders” by 2:00pm.
In response, pro-BNP-Jamaat journalist leaders held a press conference there to explain the circumstances of Fakhrul's arrival and stay at the club.
“There was a scheduled programme at the club auditorium on Monday, organised by Sammilita Peshajibi Parishad, to mark January 5 as 'Democracy Killing Day'. Although Fakhrul Islam was not a scheduled speaker in the programme, we welcomed him,” said Shawkat Mahmud, president of a faction of the BFUJ.
He alleged that when Fakhrul entered the club premises, some Projonmo League men followed him and chanted indecent slogans against him.
Shawkat, also an adviser to BNP chief Khaleda Zia, added Fakhrul stayed there following consensus among all journalists, including the pro-government ones.
During political turmoil in the past, party leaders used to take shelter in the press club for safety, he said.
However, pro-AL journalists intensified their protest after AL acting secretary general Mahbubul Alam Hanif at a rally before the AL central office said, “The number one wanted criminal has taken shelter at the press club with the blessings of journalists backed by the BNP-Jamaat.”
Hanif also demanded that the press club leaders hand Fakhrul over to law enforcers immediately.
After Shawkat's briefing, Fakhrul himself held a briefing at the press club. He said he wanted to go out on Monday but could not do so as police and AL men surrounded the area.
“Then I decided to stay at the press club for my safety.”
Only minutes after the briefing, he was arrested in several cases over recent political violence.