Jatiya Oikyafront leaders have taken preparations to bring people from neighbouring districts today to their rally in Rajshahi, amid widespread arrests and the ongoing transport strike in Natore.
Police had twice denied permission for the rally before finally announcing on Wednesday night that the event could be held at Madrasa Maidan in the city on 12 conditions.
The Oikyafront could have taken better preparation for the rally if police had not delayed the permission until the last moment, its Rajshahi coordinator Mizanur Rahman Minu told a press conference yesterday.
Several BNP leaders in the region told The Daily Star that they had to stay away from home fearing arrests.
Police raided houses of many BNP leaders and threatened their family members of arrests if they joined the rally, Minu added.
Zahidul Islam Jewel, joint convenor of Bagha upazila Jubo Dal, said, “My home was raided on Thursday night. I can't go home even at night.”
Police yesterday arrested 14 BNP-Jamaat men in Rajshahi and Natore, and raided many more houses of BNP leaders and activists in Naogaon and Chapainawabganj.
The rally would be addressed by Dr Kamal Hossain, Andalib Partha, Retd Col Oli Ahmed among others.
The 12 conditions slapped include not using multimedia projectors at all and not putting loudspeakers anywhere but the venue although the devices are widely used during ruling party rallies.
The participants are also not allowed to carry banners and festoons that are glued to sticks. The organisers were asked to hold the event between 2:00pm and 5:00pm. The activists cannot gather in or around the city before or after the rally.
They are also asked not to deliver any speech that is “anti-state”, in favour of war criminals, hurt religious sentiments and can deteriorate the law and order.
Activists began preparing the stage at Madrassa Maidan around 5:00pm yesterday.
“Let us see, how far we can prepare in a night. We are not allowed to go to the venue until 2:00pm on Friday,” Minu said yesterday.
He also alleged that some members of the law enforcement agencies were tearing down the banners and posters for the rally in Kasiadanga area of the city.
He also alleged that the sudden transport strike in Natore was called for not letting people from other districts attend the rally.
He blamed the law enforcement agencies for the strike saying, “If they are not responsible, why are the law-enforcement agencies silent about the transport workers who have no specific reason for calling a strike?”
He said he expected a crowd of one lakh at the rally.
Minu also said people had no confidence on the Election Commission.
“The commission is made up of some jokers, people do not believe them.”