BNP budges on rally venue

Asks for alternative to Suhrawardy Udyan
BNP rally venue

The BNP is no longer hell bent on holding its December 10 rally at Nayapaltan and it wants to avoid confrontation with the government over the venue.

The BNP will consider if the government offers an alternative other than Suhrawardy Udyan, party insiders said yesterday.

The BNP may propose Kakrail, Arambagh, Fakirapool or Shanti Nagar intersection as alternative venues that are not far from the BNP central office in Nayapaltan, they said, adding that they would not hold the rally outside the city.

A confrontational situation was about to arise as the BNP was determined to have the rally at Nayapaltan and the government was forcing it to have it at the Suhrawardy Udyan.

Addressing a press conference at the central office, BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir yesterday said 1,031 BNP leaders and activists got arrested over the rally since November 30.

However, police yesterday said that they arrested at least 1,356 people on various charges in just 24 hours amid a 15-day special drive that began across the country on December 1.

According to a Police Headquarters (PHQ) database, 2,321 raids were conducted across the country during the period and a total of 358 cases were filed against them, said Monzur Rahman, assistant inspector general at the PHQ.

At yesterday's press conference, Fakhrul said, "Our Dhaka rally will be the most successful and peaceful one. We urge the government not to create instability by trying to divert our programme to a different direction."

He added that BNP standing committee member Mirza Abbas on Saturday called upon the government to offer a venue other than Nayapaltan and Suhrawardy Udyan.

"If we get any suitable alternative we will consider it, but the venue cannot be Suhrawardy Udyan or on the banks of the Turag," Fakhrul said.

Hours after his press conference, a delegation led by Amanullah Aman, convener of Dhaka City North BNP, met Dhaka Metropolitan commissioner to discuss the venue.

BNP's Publicity Affairs Secretary Shahiduddin Chowdhury Annie later told The Daily Star that nothing was finalised in the meeting.

"We said we wanted to hold the event outside of Suhrawardy Udyan. The DMP commissioner asked for an alternative venue," he said.

Annie last night met a deputy commissioner of the Motijheel division of the DMP and told The Daily Star the officer said he would let them know a decision today.

BNP's determination to hold the event at Nayapaltan appears to have swayed after several leaders were arrested on Saturday night and a police checkpoint was set up in front of BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia's house in Gulshan.

Fakhrul at the press conference said a political party has the constitutional and democratic right to hold a rally anywhere in the country, but the government is trying to snatch that right away by talking about a possible sabotage.

"I think everyone should play a role in creating a healthy atmosphere to keep the existence of democracy in the country. The government has the bigger responsibility in this regard.

"No one but the government can carry out subversive acts in Dhaka and if anything bad happens here, the government will be held responsible."

He thanked the inspector general of police for his remark that law enforcers had no information about any possible subversive acts centring the BNP rally.

Fakhrul alleged that the government agencies were resorting to subversive acts to destabilise the Nayapaltan area.

Meanwhile, BNP leader Ishrque Hossain was attacked while distributing fliers in front of Jagannath University yesterday.

Ishraque alleged that Chhatra League leaders and activists attacked him.