BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir yesterday said they would rejuvenate the people to organise a “mass upsurge” to free party Chairperson Khaleda Zia from jail.
“We held many rallies, placed our demands on various occasions, and took part in polls in the past. Now our main responsibility is to force the government to free our leader Khaleda Zia and restore the people’s rights,” he said.
Speaking at a rally in front of the BNP’s Nayapaltan central office, Fakhrul also announced that the party would stage demonstrations across the country on February 15 to press its demand for Khaleda’s release.
“We would like to say that we would wake the people up through a movement, and then organise a mass upsurge to defeat this dangerous monstrous government and reinstate the people’s rights,” he said.
The BNP organised the rally protesting the imprisonment of Khaleda. Yesterday was the second anniversary of her imprisonment.
Fakhrul urged the government to free the BNP chief immediately and allow her to receive better treatment for her “serious” ailment.
He claimed that the government has kept Khaleda in jail in “false and fabricated cases out of political vengeance”.
“She is too sick to walk. She needs others’ help to move while her diabetes is not under control. Her arthritic problem has deteriorated and she can’t eat properly. She has lost 6-7 pounds in weight,” the BNP leader said.
He alleged that the government has been in power without the people’s mandate as it does not believe in democracy and the rule of law. “This is not a government of the people as it usurped power using the state machinery by destroying democracy, which was the main spirit of the Liberation War.”
About the recently-held Dhaka city polls, Fakhrul said none can be called a mayor after securing only 15 percent of votes. “They even couldn’t get the required number of votes by indulging in rigging through machines.”
Stating that an election cannot be acceptable in which less than 50 percent votes is cast, the BNP leader urged the Election Commission to arrange fresh elections to the two Dhaka city corporations after cancelling the February 1 polls results.
He accused the government of failing to run the country and urged it to step down to pave the way for holding a fresh election under a non-partisan administration.
Addressing the programme, BNP standing committee member Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain said the government had sent Khaleda to jail ahead of the 11th parliamentary polls to hang on to power by force. “Khaleda Zia has been in jail only for political reasons.”
He said the government has long been “snatching the results of elections as it has no accountability to the people”.
The BNP leader said the people have expressed no-confidence in the government and the EC with their very thin presence at the polling centers during the February 1 polls.
Mosharraf also said the city polls proved that the electronic voting system was not suitable for a credible election. “It has also been proved again that no election can be held in a free and fair manner under the current government.”
He said Khaleda must be freed from jail to restore democracy and the people’s rights, including the right to vote. He urged all to get ready to organise a “mass upsurge” to have Khaleda freed”.
Another BNP standing committee member, Moudud Ahmed, said though Khaleda’s lawyers worked hard to free her through the legal process, they failed to do so due to the government’s “political influence on the judiciary”.
“Now there is no alternative to launching a movement to free Khaleda Zia. The people of Bangladesh had established their rights through struggles on different occasions in the past, and they will do the same in future as well.”
BNP standing committee members Mirza Abbas, Abdul Moyeen Khan, Amir Khosru Mahmud Chowdhury, and Iqbal Hasan Mahmud Tuku, among others, also addressed the programme.
Khaleda has been behind bars since February 8, 2018 when she was convicted by a special court in the Zia Orphanage Trust corruption case. Later that year, she was found guilty in another graft case.
However, her party claims both cases are politically motivated.
The BNP chief, now facing about 36 cases, has been undergoing treatment at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University since April 1 last year.