Blockade still on!
The countrywide blockade, called by the BNP-led 20-party alliance last year, is still on. It is hard to believe that the opposition alliance is yet to officially withdraw the programme through any announcement, party insiders have said.
Obstructed by police to come out from her Gulshan office to attend a showdown in front of BNP's Naya Paltan office, the 20-party combine chief Khaleda Zia on January 5 last year announced the countrywide nonstop blockade, demanding a fresh election under a non-party administration.
On April 5, Khaleda surrendered before a special court in Dhaka and later returned to her residence upon getting bail after staying in her Gulshan office for 92 days.
But neither she nor any of her party leaders told media anything about ending the blockade although the alliance completely withdrew hartals -- which took lives of over 100 people -- across the country since March 30.
In mid-April, Khaleda said: “I alone cannot take any decision about the fate of the blockade as the programme was fixed in consultation with the 20-party leaders. Now the political situation does not allow us to sit together.”
But the fact remains that the issue was not discussed in any meetings between the chiefs of the 20-party alliance or the BNP standing committee -- the highest policy level body, insiders told The Daily Star.
“It is nothing but a foolish question to ask about the fate of the blockade,” a BNP senior leader replied with dismay while talking to this correspondent last week.
“Why are you asking this foolish question? Do you have any confusion that the blockade is no more?” the BNP leader said, adding that such foolish questions were raised by some media outlets, not by the common people.
Asked whether they should make any official announcement on withdrawing the blockade as it was announced formally to media, he advised this correspondent to contact with the party chief.
Despite zero response from people, the alliance enforced hartals in phases till March 29 but the blockade programme still continues officially in the absence of any formal announcement to the effect that it has been withdrawn.