Chief coordinator of the BNP-led 20-party alliance Nazrul Islam Khan on Sunday said they want to get Khaleda Zia freed by any means.
“All efforts are underway for the release of our alliance chief Khaleda Zia. We’ve tried to free her through the legal process. The administration can take steps for her proper treatment, but they’re not doing that. We’re in touch with the government and we’ve also different action programmes to get her freed,” he said.
Speaking at a protest rally, Nazrul further said, “We’ll surely take the process and path through which it will be possible to ensure Khaleda Zia’s release in the days to come, and the 20-party alliance will be involved in that process."
The 20-party alliance arranged the programme at Dhaka Reporters’ Unity demanding Khaleda’s release from jail, marking her second anniversary of imprisonment.
Nazrul, a BNP standing committee member, said their alliance will also work out programmes to mount pressure on the government to free the BNP chairperson.
He said the government should not deprive sick Khaleda Zia of the rights she deserves, and ensure her proper treatment.
“We know she didn’t commit any crime. So we don’t want the government to forgive her offence. But we expect humanitarian and democratic behaviour from it, and there are many examples of public reaction in the world when a government doesn’t show such behaviour,” the BNP leader said.
He said they want to wage a movement through a democratic way to have Khaleda freed from jail.
The BNP leader also regretted that they still could not carried out such a movement which actually needs to force the government to release their party chief from jail.
About the recent city polls, he said it has exposed how people are losing interest in voting as the government has destroyed the election system and people’s confidence in it. “Elections now have become a matter of panic instead of a festival.”
BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir on Saturday said they will rejuvenate people to stage a ‘mass upsurge’ to free their chairperson Khaleda Zia from jail.
“We held many rallies and placed our demands on various occasions and took part in the polls in the past. Now our main responsibility is to force the government to free our leader Khaleda Zia and restore people’s rights,” he said.
Speaking at a rally, the BNP leader also announced that their party will stage demonstrations across the country on Saturday next to push their demand for the release of Khaleda Zia.
“We would like to say we would wake up people through a movement, and then stage a mass upsurge to defeat this dangerous monstrous government and reinstate people’s rights,” he said.
BNP arranged the rally in front of its Nayapaltan central office protesting the imprisonment of Khaleda, marking her second anniversary of jailing.
Fakhrul urged the government to free their party 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 its political vengeance.
“She’s too sick to walk. She needs others’ help to move while her diabetes is out of control. Her arthritic problem has deteriorated, and she’s unable to eat properly while she’s lost 6-7 pound weight,” the BNP leader said.
He said the government has been in power without people’s mandate as it does not believe in democracy and the rule of law. “This is not a government of 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 elections to Dhaka south and north city corporations, Fakhrul said no-one can be called mayor by getting only 15 percent vote. “They even couldn’t get the required number of votes by indulging rigging through machines.”
Stating that an election cannot be acceptable where less than 50 percent votes are cast, he urged the Election Commission to arrange fresh elections to the two city corporations annulling the results of February-1 polls.
Accusing the government of having failed to run the country, he also urged it step down paving the path for holding a fresh election under a non-party administration.
BNP standing committee member Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain said the government sent Khaleda to jail ahead of the 11th parliamentary polls to hang onto power by force. “Khaleda Zia has been in jail purely for political reasons.”
He said the government has long been snatching the results of elections as it has no accountability to people.
The BNP leader said the country’s people have expressed their no-confidence in the government and the Election Commission with their very thin presence at the polling stations during the recent city polls. “Even then, the government has rigged votes through the EVMs in the polls.”
He also said the city polls have proved that the electronic voting system is not suitable for a credible election. “It’s also exposed again that no election can be held in a free and fair manner under the current government.”
Mosharraf said Khaleda Zia must be freed from jail to restore democracy and people’s all rights, including the voting one. “I urge all to get ready for a mass upsurge to have her freed.”
Another BNP standing committee member, Moudud Ahmed, said though Khaleda Zia’s lawyers worked hard to free her through the legal process, they have failed to do so due to the government’s ‘political influence’ on the judiciary.
“Now there’s no alternative to launching a movement to free Khaleda Zia. The people of Bangladesh established their rights through struggles on different occasions in the past, and they will do the same in the future as well,” he said.
The BNP leader said democracy, people’s voting rights, the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary and press will be ’restored’ if only Khaleda Zia can be freed. “Take preparations for the movement to free Khaleda Zia as we’ll announce programme for it in the days to come.”
BNP standing committee members Mirza Abbas, Dr Abdul Moyeen Khan, Amir Khosru Mahmud Chowdhury and Iqbal Hasan Mahmud Tuku, among others, addressed the programme.
Khaleda has been in jail since she was convicted in the Zia Orphanage Trust corruption case on February 8, 2018. She was found guilty in another corruption case later the same year, though her party claims both cases are politically motivated.
The BNP chief has been receiving treatment at the BSMMU since April 1 last year.
Khaleda is now facing around 36 cases, including Zia Orphanage Trust and Zia Charitable corruption ones.
Information Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud on Friday said finding errors in everything has turned into a bad habit of the BNP.
He made the remarks at Pabna Government Edward College while speaking at Awami League’s grassroots workers’ meeting.
“Finding errors in everything has become BNP’s bad habit,” he said suggesting the party to come out of the habit.
About his own party’s situation, Hasan Mahmud said, “Many leaders changed their stance when AL was in danger. There’re many intruders in the party.”
He also said that those who entered the party seeking favours won’t get any post while the rich will also not be made leaders of the party.
Asked about low voter turnout in the Dhaka city elections, the minister said BNP spread confusion over EVM and participated in the city polls as a part of their movement which created fear among voters.
“BNP made mistake in mathematics,” he added.
AL’s Pabna district unit Senior Vice-President and Pabna Zila Parishad Chairman Rezaul Rahim Lal presided over the meeting where local parliament members, and AL leaders were present.
BNP standing committee member Iqbal Hasan Mahmud Tuku on Friday said Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader takes a swipe at BNP before washing his face every morning as he always remains in panic about their party.
"So, there's nothing to take cognisance of his words," he said while distributing leaflets among people in Mohammadpur Town Hall area demanding the release of BNP chief Khaleda Zia from jail.
Tuku claimed that their lakhs of leaders and activists are facing arrest and attacks and are in jail as they have waged a movement.
Claiming that it was proved through the recent election that people have no confidence in the government, he said they are working so that tomorrow's rally turns into a human sea.
BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir on Thursday described as a ‘black law’ the bill passed in Parliament on Wednesday to bring the surplus money of 61 state-owned and autonomous agencies to the national exchequer.
“Definitely, this is a black law. They’ve legalised their evil intention through the law. The evil intention is that they’ve left the economy bankrupt. If we go through newspaper reports of the last few days, we’ll see that the government is borrowing around 49,000 crore from the banking sector and there’s no positive picture of the economy other than the negative one,” he said.
Fakhrul further said, “This was proved through the law that the government has started taking money from everywhere. This can be called part of corruption because the government will use the money in quick rental power plants and mega projects where corruption is taking place.”
While talking to reporters at the BNP chairperson’s Gulshan office, he said no government took money from the autonomous bodies in the past. “If the government takes money from such organisations and uses it in mega projects, this will give a rise to corruption.”
Amid strong opposition from Jatiya Party (JaPa) and BNP MPs, a bill was passed in Parliament on Wednesday allowing the government to bring the surplus money of self-governed agencies to the national exchequer.
According to the bill, the surplus funds of self-governed agencies will have to be deposited to the national exchequer after keeping aside the operational cost, additional 25 percent of the operational cost as emergency funds, money for general provident fund and pension.
The respective organisation can estimate its operational cost.
If an organisation does not provide correct information about the funds, legal actions will be taken against it, the bill says.
The Cabinet approved the draft bill on September 2 last year when the Cabinet Secretary said as per the latest balance of 68 organisations, an amount of Tk 212,100 crore remains stagnant as FDR in different banks and the money is not being invested for its better use.