BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir on Friday alleged that writer Mushtaq Ahmed was tortured to death in prison.
In a statement, he demanded formation of a judicial probe body to transparently look into the death of the writer in jail.
"Mushtaq Ahmed was killed thorough immense torture in jail. Mushtaq was not a looter or a smuggler, terrorist and a robber. He was a talented student of Faujdarhat Cadet College," he said.
The BNP leader also said Mushtaq met a premature death only for his efforts to ensure freedom of thought through social media. "We strongly condemn and protest the incident."
He said the scope for expressing opinions and explanations about various inconsistencies, irregularities and misdeeds of the state and society through the social media is now recognised by all in the democratic world at the current age of information technology.
"But the current authoritarian Awami League government of Bangladesh is not tolerating in any way any kind of criticism against its misdeeds and terrible misrule or any comment and post on the socail media and Facebook," Fakhrul said.
He alleged that the government is trying to hide its criticisms through various 'black laws'.
The BNP leader also alleged that those who try to express their opinions freely in social media are facing dire consequences as they are either being subjected to enforced disappearance or custodial death. Mushtaq Ahmed was the latest victim of such repressive act."
He hoped that the young generation will wake up through this self-sacrifice of Mushtaq and the freedom of expression, civil rights, good governance, and the rule of law will be 'restored' in the country.
Stating that Mushtaq was a brave and honest man, Fakhrul said he will always remain as a beacon of inspiration to people who are deprived of rights.
He said a 'suffocating' situation has been prevailing in the country for lack of the rule of law and justice.
The BNP leader said the entire nation is going through a tough time while people have no security of their lives and property.
Fakhrul said people now cannot raise their voice freely as a new one-party Baksal system has been established in the country.
"Enforced disappearance, killing, crossfire and death in police custody have been made part of activities of the state to silence people," he observed.
The BNP leader also alleged that Bangladesh is gradually turning into a "mafia state" as the government never hesitates to shed the blood of people to secure its power.
He said the death of a nonpolitical and innocent writer like Mushtaq is not natural at all.
The BNP leader prayed for the salvation of the departed soul of the writer and conveyed his profound sympathy to the bereaved family members.
He expressed deep concern as the government still did not release cartoonist Ahmed Kabir Kishore who was arrested along with Mushtaq in May last year.
He demanded the government release Kishore immediately from jail.
Mushtaq who had been arrested in May in a case filed under then Digital Security Act died in police custody around the 8:30pm on Thursday.
Mushtaq suffered a heart attack inside his cell at Kashimpur High Security Prison on Thursday evening. He was taken to Shaheed Tajuddin Medical College Hospital where he was declared brought dead, said Senior Jail Superintendent Md Gias Uddin.
BNP on Thursday alleged that the police are dillydallying in giving permission to hold its scheduled rally in Khulna city on Saturday.
"Police have started attacking and harassing our leaders and activists in Khulna city ahead of our rally there on February 27. They’re also dillydallying over giving permission for the rally,” said party senior joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi.
Speaking at a press briefing at BNP’s Nayapaltan central office, he also alleged that law enforcers keep carrying out ‘repressive acts’ in Khulna to foil a democratic programme like a public rally. “I condemn such an attitude of the police.”
The BNP leader said a delegation of their party, led by its organising secretary Nazrul Islam Manju, had several meetings with the police authorities to get permission for the rally. “But police authorities are not making it clear whether the permission will be given or not.”
He alleged that the law enforcers have launched a drive at different wards and localities of Khulna city to arrest and harass BNP leaders and workers.
Rizvi said police have already arrested many leaders and activists of their party and its associate bodies, including Juba Dal leaders Sumon, Sirajul Islam, Alauddin, Khairuzzaman Tuku, Harun Mollah, BNP leaders Shahjahan Sheikh, Zahidul Islam, Tanti Dal leader Masum, and Chhatra Dal leaders Shamim Ashraf, Asaduzzaman Asad and Babul.
Also read: Dispose of Pilkhana murder case by 2021: BNP
He demanded the unconditional and immediate release of those of their part men arrested from Khulna city.
Earlier on February 5, BNP’s defeated mayoral candidates of different cities at a press conference announced to hold rallies in six city corporation areas, including Khulna, demanding fair and credible elections.
At the press conference, Rizvi described the day of the Pilkhana carnage on February 25 as a "black chapter" for the nation.
He demanded the government announce February 25 a national mourning day.
Rizvi said their party, if it returns to power, will take initiatives for the retrial of the incident through credible investigations into the brutal carnage. “The masterminds behind the incident won’t be spared.”
Expressing displeasure over the delay in punishing the perpetrators, BNP on Thursday demanded announcement of the final verdict in the Pilkhana BDR mutiny murder case by this year,
“Long 12 years have elapsed, but it has not been possible to finally dispose of the (Pilkhana) murder case. We’re disappointed and people are shocked over the delay in the trial. This killing case is moving in a very slow pace,” said BNP vice chairman Maj (retd) Hafizuddin Ahmed.
Also read: Remembering the Pilkhana martyrs
“We don’t see any sign that the process of leave-to-appeal will begin this year. We urge the judiciary to ensure a speedy trial of this murder case. We hope the final verdict of this case will be delivered within this year,” he said.
The BNP leader also expected that the condemned convicted in the case will be executed soon after the verdict is pronounced.
Hafiz came up with the remarks while talking to reporters after placing wreaths at a monument set up at Banani Graveyard in memory of the army officials killed in the Pilkhana carnage, marking the 12th anniversary of the incident.
On February 25-26, 2009, a cabal of the then Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) killed 74 people, including 57 army officers, of the paramilitary force at the Pilkhana Headquarters.
On November 5, 2013, a Dhaka court awarded death sentence to 150 BDR members and two civilians, and life imprisonment to 160 others in the case. On November 27, 2017, the High Court confirmed death penalty for 139 out of 152 accused.
Hafiz, a retired army officer, demanded that the report of the Court of Inquiry, headed by the then Quartermaster General Lieutenant General Jahangir, be made public.
He said the perpetrators of the heinous massacre should be punished through a fair investigation and trial as this incident has a serious impact on the national life.
The BNP leader alleged that Pilkhana carnage was carried out to weaken Bangladesh's military. People also want to know it clearly who exactly the beneficiaries of this tragic incident are.”
He alleged that an Awami League leader, who had been sentenced to life term imprisonment by a lower court, was later acquitted. “Only some people, not all those who had direct involvement in the killings, have been brought to justice.”
He said the local and international conspirators who planned the Pilkhana carnage still remained behind the scenes. “Their identities are not clear to people. We urge the government to bring to justice all those who plotted and planned the barbaric killing incident.”
The BNP leader alleged the family of a Subedar Major of then BDR who was killed during the massacre for his efforts to protect the army officers still did not get any support from the government. “I hope the government will immediately give attention to the matter.”
Stating that the families of the slain army officers are living in severe miseries and grief, Hafiz hoped that the offenders of this brutal incident will be brought to justice soon to bring peace to their minds and the souls of the martyrs.
He said their party wants good governance, democracy and the rule of law to be ‘restored’ in the country in a very short time.
Hafiz along with party leaders and ex-army officials went to the graveyard around 10:45am and placed wreaths at a monument and offered special prayers there seeking eternal peace of the departed souls of the slain army officers.
BNP vice chairmen Air Vice Marshal (retd) Altaf Hossain Chowdhury; Maj (retd) Shahjahan Omar, Kalyan Party Chairman Maj Gen (retd) Syed Muhammad Ibrahim retired army officers Fazle Elahi Akbar, Colonels Ishaq, Manish Dewan, Kamruzzaman, Majors Hanif, Sarwar Hossain, Saidul Islam and Hasan, were, among others, present.
Jatiya Party Chairman GM Quader on Wednesday said the country is now under the grip of ‘autocracy’ as all the power is concentrated in the hands of one person.
“The three main pillars of the state -- the executive branch, the legislative and the lower courts of the judiciary -- are in the hands of one person. The appointment to the High Court is also in her hands through the President,” he said.
Also read: People fed-up with AL, BNP: GM Quader
GM Quader said, “So, all the power of the country is now in the hands of one person, and nothing happens without her command. It can never be called democracy. It’s autocracy when power is abused and concentrated in the hands of one person.”
He came up with the remarks while speaking at a programme marking his 73rd birthday at Jatiya Party chairman’s Banani office.
GM Quader said corruption and politicisation are going on harming the interests of common people, while leaders and activists are amassing huge wealth unfairly.
He said their party will not remain as parasitic in the field of politics. “Jatiya Party has existence with its own politics. We’ll l move forward with our own politics.”
He said Jatiya Party has acceptance among people and it will continue to raise voice in public interests.
Also read: AL, BNP disappointed people: GM Quader
“Jatiya Party won’t bow down its head to anyone out of fear… No party evaluates a non-existent or rootless political party. In politics, people hate parasitic or rootless parties,” GM Quader observed.
He said their party will remain active in the field of politics in favour of people braving all barriers.
BNP on Wednesday announced a 19-day programme, including a grand rally at Suhrawardy Udyan, for the month of March to celebrate the golden jubilee of the country’s independence.
Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain, a BNP standing committee member and the convener of the party’s National Committee on celebrating the golden jubilee of independence, announced the programmes at a press conference at its chairperson’s Gulshan office.
As part of the programmes, the party has a plan to hold a grand rally on March 30 at the Suhrawardy Udyan in the capital.
Mosharraf said their party will celebrate the golden jubilee of independence throughout the year, and they will announce the programmes in every running month for the next month. So, we’re now announcing the programmes for the month of March.”
The programmes include inauguration of golden jubilee programmes on March 1, discussion on hoisting the flag of independence on March 2, discussion on manifesto of the independence on March 3, discussion on March 7, celebration of World Women's Day on March 8, a seminar March 9, essay competition March 10, inauguration of year-long blood donation programme March 13, painting competition March 15, seminar on rule of law and the independence of judiciary March 20, seminar on declaration of independence, Liberation War, ‘Z Force and Bir Uttam Ziaur Rahman’ March 22, cultural heritage fair March 23, seminar on usurpation of power by dictator Ershad by ousting the elected BNP government March 24, discussion on ‘Black Night’ March 25.
On March 26, the national and party flags will be hoisted atop BNP offices, party leaders will place wreaths at National Memorial in Savar, and late President Ziaur Rahman’s grave at Sher-e-Bangla Nagar, marking the Independence Day. The party will also arrange blood donation programmes and rallies across the country the same day.
Besides, the party will hold discussions in Chattogram and Bogura on March 27, accord a reception to freedom fighters March 28, rally Suhrawardy Udyan 30 March and book fair and painting exhibition on the Liberation War on March 31.
Mosharraf called upon the people of all walks of life, irrespective of party affiliation, to celebrate the golden jubilee of independence with utmost enthusiasm and seriousness from their respective positions. “We liberated the country in exchange for a sea of blood in the interest of the people of this country. So, we want to celebrate the golden jubilee of independence all together.”
He also sought cooperation of law enforcement agencies for the security and smooth holding of their programmes. “The same way, we seek the cooperation of the government, so that we can get its full support for celebrating the golden jubilee properly without any hindrance.”
Also read:2020: No political mileage for BNP
The BNP leader also urged the government to ensure the ‘permanent release’ of their party chairperson Khaleda Zia on the occasion.