BNP sources say more than 50,000 cases have been lodged against party activists in the last 11 years.
The BNP leadership and even the activists at the grassroots level remain unsure over the intensity of the movement the party is planning to launch if its Chairperson Khaleda Zia is convicted in the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case.
The confusion increased as central party leaders continue to remain absent in recently held demonstrations, due to concerns of getting arrested or detained by the law enforcers.
According to sources from the BNP, at least 50,074 cases have been lodged against party leaders and activists throughout the country in the last 11 years.
In a recent development, a special judge’s court had set February 8 for delivering the verdict on Zia Orphanage Trust graft case, filed against Khaleda Zia and five others.
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The verdict will be delivered at a time when the national election is less than a year away, and the party chief has already expressed concerns that the verdict might be manipulated by the government to keep her out of the polls.
Speaking to the Dhaka Tribune, a number of central BNP leaders stated that they will take to the streets to protest Khaleda’s possible conviction, instead of mounting a stronger legal defence.
Responding to a query, BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said: “It has become a major concern for us, due to the way the verdict of the judiciary is being changed and being delivered in a hurry.
“Furthermore, the arguments held in court were full of faulty statements, as it is a baseless case. If there is no pressure on the judge, it could certainly be said that none of the accused will be convicted.”
Fakhrul claimed that all 35 cases filed against Khaleda Zia were politically motivated.
“Before the 2014 elections, the then government used the same strategy of arrests, murders and forced disappearances against BNP leaders and activists to ensure the absence of the opposition party from the political arena,” alleged Fakhrul.
According to the senior BNP leader, from December 20, 2017 to January 22 this year, around 528 cases were filed in 7 divisions accusing 24,772. The number of arrests is 1,519, one person has been killed, and another disappeared without a trace.
From 2007 to January 22 this year, 50,074 cases were filed against BNP leaders and activists throughout the country. The number of accused is 1,191,449. A total of 773 people have been killed and currently there are 3,947 leaders and activists are in jail.
Apart from the staggering number of incarcerations and deaths, more than one hundred central leaders and grassroots activists are facing fabricated cases, said several BNP leaders.