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All eyes on Khaleda Zia’s verdict

  • Published at 04:29 pm February 6th, 2018
  • Last updated at 09:56 am February 7th, 2018
All eyes on Khaleda Zia’s verdict
All eyes are currently on the impending verdict in a graft case against BNP chief and former prime minister Khaleda Zia as Awami League and BNP have threatened to confront each other on the streets over the outcome of the case. The verdict, which is scheduled to be delivered on Thursday, has already started drawing attention from of all quarters including law enforcers, lawyers, and foreign diplomats as well as the citizenry. The two major parties have taken all-out preparations to face each other, causing panic among the masses. If convicted, Khaleda may be disqualified from contesting the much-awaited 11th parliamentary polls. BNP has accused the government of trying to convict her in a politically motivated “false” case so she cannot take part in the election slated for December this year. The ruling party says the law is taking its course.

AL, BNP’s plans to dominate city streets

Speaking to the Dhaka Tribune, BNP insiders said their party has already started mobilizing its activists to stage a massive demonstration tomorrow, defying all obstacles. They also said leaders and activists of the party will be on streets of Dhaka and try their utmost to showcase their strength on the day. Senior leaders of BNP said they have no plan to resort to violence over the verdict, but they will stage demonstrations in a peaceful and democratic manner if the verdict goes against their party chief, Khaleda. On the other hand, the Awami League leadership instructed party leaders and activists to remain on guard at important places including Jatrabari, Konapara, Demra, Dania, Shyampur, Azimpur, Shantinagar, Badda and Mirpur. Leaders and activists of the ruling party have also been instructed to take positions at all entry points of Dhaka from Wednesday until Friday to bar BNP men from entering the city so that they cannot create unrest over the lower court’s judgment, said Shah Alam Murad, general secretary of the Dhaka South unit of Awami League. Apart from Dhaka, Awami League leaders and activists will stay vigilant at around 13 points of Chittagong city to tackle BNP men, said a leader of the ruling Awami League’s Chittagong city unit, adding that they held a meeting on Monday to issue directives to their activists in this regard. “Our leaders and activists will take positions at AK Khan Mor, Kathghar, Biman Chattar, Baddam Toli, Dewanhat, Wasa Mor, GEC intersection, Bahaddarhat, Oxygen Mor, Karnaphuli Shah Amanat Bridge, Chakbazar, EPZ intersection and New Market area to deal with the BNP men,” he said on Tuesday. Awami League will also bring out processions from all 44 wards of the city. Meanwhile, the BNP announced that its leaders and activists would take positions at six points in the city, including City Gate area, Karnaphuli Shah Amanat Bridge, Oxygen Mor, EPZ intersection, Dewanhat and Bahaddarhat, according to sources from BNP’s Chittagong city unit.

AL’s directives for grassroots leaders, activists

The Awami League (AL) top brass has instructed its leaders and activists at the grassroots level to stay alert. On Saturday, Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader sat with all district-level leaders to set their plan to face BNP and issued letters conveying four specific directives to the grassroots level from the centre. The party’s office secretary, Abdus Sobhan Golap, said: “The general secretary [Obaidul] sent letters to the presidents and general secretaries of all units of our party at the district, upazila and union parishad levels, and also to leaders of our affiliated organizations, asking them to bar BNP men from creating anarchy.” When contacted, Awami League’s Gazipur district General Secretary Mohammad Iqbal Hossain Sabuj expressed their determination to comply with the centre’s directives.

Transport workers to stay vigilant

Equipped with sticks, transport owners and workers supporting the ruling party will take position in Gulistan, Mohakhali, Fulbaria and Sayedabad bus terminals to tackle BNP men and stop them from resorting to violence over the verdict. Khandaker Enayetullah, general secretary of Bangladesh Road Transport Owners' Association, said: “At least 15,000 transport owners and workers will stay alert on roads and in four major bus terminals of Dhaka. They will face (BNP) with an iron hand if leaders and activists of BNP and its allies try to create unrest following the verdict.”

Law enforcement on high alert

Law enforcement agencies have launched a crackdown on BNP men in Dhaka and beyond ahead of the verdict, BNP leaders alleged, adding that over 1,100 leaders and activists of the party had been detained in the last one week. As part of their plans to prevent BNP men from entering Dhaka and creating anarchy in the city, police asked hoteliers not to take in boarders until further notice. Seeking anonymity, officials of Dhaka Metropolitan police (DMP) said they predict that BNP might try to create instability and unrest like the ones in 2013 and 2014. Mentioning that law enforcers are on a high alert over the judgement, DMP Commissioner Assaduzzaman Mia said: “Police will conduct searches in every vehicle at all points of Dhaka.” Meanwhile, the DMP has put an embargo on bringing out processions and holding rallies on the day of the verdict.

City residents rescheduling their plans

Panicked and worried over their safety, many residents of Dhaka city have been forced to reschedule their plans for the day while some decided not to leave their homes, as confrontation may arise between the two political parties. During an interview with the Dhaka Tribune, dozens of people expressed their fears and concerns and said they had to reschedule their plans for the next couple of days to avoid getting caught in the possible violence.
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