12 hurt as microbus torched in Natore
BNP leaders in Natore yesterday alleged that Awami League activists set fire to a microbus of BNP activists while they were going to join the party's road march in Bogura.
A team of police and firefighters rushed to the spot and brought the fire under control around 10:30am in Dalsarak area of Natore, said Akhter Hamid Khan, deputy assistant director of Natore fire service.
Natore district BNP convener Shahidul Islam Bachchu said, "Led by Awami League activist Rashidul Islam Koyel, ruling party activists attacked BNP leaders and activists and set fire to the microbus. At least 12 leaders and activists of Bagatipara upazila unit of Chhatra Dal were injured."
However, Natore Sadar Police Station Officer-in-Charge Nasim Ahmed told our correspondent that the microbus did not belong to BNP activists and that there were no casualties.
AL activist Koyel denied the allegation and said he had been with local lawmaker Shafiqul Islam Shimul at various programmes since morning.
Asked about a photo in which he was seen searching a vehicle, Koyel said they searched vehicles at Madrasa intersection in the morning to see if BNP activists were leaving Natore. No untoward incident occurred, he added.
Natore district AL General Secretary Shariful Islam Ramzan said neither BNP nor AL had any scheduled programmes in Natore. BNP leaders themselves might have set fire to the microbus or there might have been an explosion, he added.
Fire service official Akhter said, "The actual reason for the fire is not known. It will be known after investigation."
Meanwhile, speaking at a programme before the road march in Arulia of Bogura, BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said the biggest theft is the theft of the right to vote and the AL was planning to steal again.
He said people would not allow their right to vote to be stolen again.
Three pro-BNP bodies--Jubo Dal, Swechchhasebak Dal, and Chhatra Dal-- organised the road march to press home the party's one-point demand, the resignation of the government and general elections under a neutral interim government.
Fakhrul said, "After 52 years of independence, we have to struggle again. Why do we have to struggle? We have to fight to get our right to vote, right to have rice; and right to live."
He said if Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is in power, fair polls are impossible.
"People across the world now believe that the last two elections in Bangladesh were not fair.
"But what are they doing? They are filing false cases and arresting people like before so that the opposition party cannot run in the election. They filed false cases against 40 lakh people," Fakhrul said.
Alleging that the government is not providing treatment to BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia, he said, "The doctor said that she needs a liver transplant if she is to be saved. It is not possible without going abroad …. "
Fakhrul demanded immediate release of Khaleda so that she could have treatment abroad.
The road march started around noon and traversed 129km to Rajshahi.
Our Bogura and Natore correspondents contributed to this report.