BNP leaders and activists on Friday staged demonstrations across the country, including the capital, protesting imprisonment of party chairperson Khaleda Zia in Zia Orphanage Trust graft case and demanded her immediate release.
On Thursday, BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir at a press conference announced countrywide demonstrations for Friday and Saturday after a court sentenced Khaleda Zia to five years in jail in a graft case.
As part of their countrywide programme, several hundred BNP leaders and activists brought out a protest procession in the capital after Zuma prayers.
Leaders and activists of BNP, its front and associate organisations, including Chhatra Dal, Jubo Dal and Swechchhasebak Dal from different parts of Dhaka city, joined the demonstration.
The procession led by BNP central leaders, including its secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, began from the north gate of Baitul Mukarram National Mosque and marched through Dainik Bangla intersection, Fakirapul and Naya Paltan. As the procession was passing by the BNP’s central office at Naya Paltan, police intercepted them at Nightingale crossing.
Meanwhile, the party men also staged demonstrations at different cities, districts, upazilas and municipalities across the country, demanding immediate release of Khaleda Zia.
Addressing a press briefing at BNP’s central office in Nayapaltan on Friday morning, party’s senior joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi said they came to know through newspapers that Khaleda Zia has been kept like an ordinary prisoner in the old central jail.
“We cannot become clear what’s happening in the jail.We also don’t know her present condition,” he said, adding that the government in no way can treat Khaleda Zia as an ordinary prisoner since she is a former prime minister of the country.
Rizvi said the ministers, MPs and the ruling party leaders had been telling over the last two years that Khaleda Zia would have to go to jail. “There is similarity between the ministers’ speech and the court verdict handed down by judge Md Akhtaruzzaman.”
He said many political parties and common people hatefully rejected the verdict while many international organisations, including the United Nations and Human Right Watch, voiced concern over the verdict.
Criticising the prime minister’s statement about Khaleda’s imprisonment, he said, “The prime minister on Thursday said where she [Khaleda] is today. It seems to be that, she felt a sense of self-satisfaction by sending Khaleda Zia to jail.”
The BNP leader claimed that the prime minister will be compelled to release Khaleda Zia in the face of resistance by people.