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How will BNP react if Khaleda is convicted?

  • Published at 08:22 pm February 6th, 2018
How will BNP react if Khaleda is convicted?
As they wait for the verdict in the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case, confusion still shrouds the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) camp about what course of action to follow if the party chief gets convicted in the case. BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia is one of the six prime accused in the graft case filed by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), charged with misappropriation of Tk2.10 crore. BNP has claimed that the trial proceedings in the case have been hastened with the aim to block Khaleda Zia from taking part in the next parliamentary election. “This is Awami League's ploy to make way for another unlawful election,” BNP Senior Joint Secretary General Ruhul Kabir Rizvi told reporters at the party office in Naya Paltan, Dhaka on Tuesday. After a special court in Dhaka announced the date for verdict delivery on January 28, the BNP chief held quick meetings with the party's executive committee and the standing committee, where she directed the party leaders to hold peaceful, nonviolent protests if she is convicted, senior BNP leaders told the Dhaka Tribune. She said to keep the focus on the upcoming election, which is only months away, and save the party's strength, the senior leaders said. However, carrying on a peaceful protest may become a hefty task for the party if they situation gets out of control, sources in the party told the Dhaka Tribune. There is a lack of planning and coordination among the leaders and activists, especially regarding the post-verdict situation, they added. Meanwhile, BNP members in Dhaka city and surrounding areas are planning to gather in Bakshibazar area, where the special court is located, during the verdict delivery, the sources said. This may also become problematic for the party as the Dhaka Metropolitan Police has banned rallies and meeting in Dhaka until further notice. In a statement issued on Tuesday, DMP Commissioner Asaduzzaman Miah further said people would not be allowed to carry sticks, batons, knives and any other sharp weapons, and explosive or flammable substances in the capital city either. Only two days before the ban came into effect, police detained BNP Dhaka city's Kafrul unit Joint Secretary Tarikul Islam Tenjil with 90 home-made bombs on February 4. This begs the question: Will the BNP members be able to follow their party chief's instructions if things go south? Some of the ward-level BNP leaders in Dhaka have already said they were prepared to launch a tough protest if Khaleda Zia got convicted in the graft case. Some of the leaders said adopting non-violent tactics during protest would be difficult in the field since members of the Awami League and its affiliated organizations were also planning to stay present on the streets. On condition of anonymity, a mid-level BNP leader based in Old Dhaka told the Dhaka Tribune that even though the party was prepared to hold peaceful protest, some activists might get overcome by emotions and react impulsively, which could possibly lead to violent situations. Meanwhile, seeking anonymity, several members of BNP student wing Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal said they would follow the party high command's instruction to hold peaceful protest, but if the law enforcement officials and the Awami League men on the street became aggressive, the Chhatra Dal men would retaliate in kind. Al Mehedi Talukdar, president of Chhatra Dal's Dhaka University unit, said: “If our chairperson gets convicted in an unfair and illogical way, we will go for tougher movement.” Mamun Hasan, organizing secretary of BNP youth wing Bangladesh Jatiyatabadi Jubo Dal's Dhaka metropolitan unit, said BNP would not hold any program centring the verdict, and instead would join the regular gathering that takes place when Khaleda Zia appears before the court. “We will keep an eye on the verdict, and if it convicts our chief, we will definitely launch a movement throughout the country,” he said. Echoing Mamun's warning, Swechchhasebak Dal President Shafiul Bari Babu said: “If the situation deteriorates on Thursday, if will be due to the government's unwise moves; they will have to take responsibility of any untoward situation.”
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