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Rizvi: People spontaneously observing BNP’s hartal

  • Published at 07:56 am February 2nd, 2020
bnp hartal
BNP leaders and activists protest in front of BNP Naya Paltan central office on Sunday, February 2, 2020 Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

The demonstration has been suspended till next announcement

BNP’s Senior Joint Secretary General Ruhul Kabir Rizvi has claimed people are spontaneously observing the dawn-to-dusk hartal in protest of the allegedly fraudulent Dhaka city elections.

"Members of the public are supporting the hartal. Some government vehicles are moving, but that too on the government’s orders. Shops have been closed down, which also means the public supports our demand," he said in front of the BNP Naya Paltan central office on Sunday.

Around 100 party leaders and activists along with Rizvi took position in front of the office around 5:30am. BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir joined the protest for a short time around 9:30am. Later, he went inside the office.

Sultana Ahmed, general secretary of Jatiyatabadi Mohila Dal, BNP's women wing, and  BNP Executive Committee members Advocate Nipun Rai Chowdhury and Advocate Abed Reza were also present during the protest. 

They brought out a procession early in the morning in support of the hartal in front of their office and burnt a symbolic Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) there.

BNP’s Senior Joint Secretary General Ruhul Kabir Rizvi along with other activists in front of BNP Naya Paltan central office on February 2, 2020 | Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka TribuneLater, they took position at the front gate of the party headquarters and chanted slogans -- "Release Khaleda Zia", "No vehicle moves, no shop opens" and "We do not and will not accept this mockery of an election."

BNP’s Dhaka north mayoral candidate Ishraque Hossain came to Naya Paltan around 11am and Dhaka south mayoral candidate Tabith Awal came around 2:30pm to join the protest.

Meanwhile, a huge number of law enforcement officials were deployed near BNP’s Naya Paltan office and adjoining areas to avoid any chaos or any other unwanted incident. Police asked the protesting BNP leaders and activists to leave around 11:45am.

Motijheel zone additional commissioner said: "We asked the BNP leaders to end the demonstration within half-an-hour if they do not have any fixed program."

After ten minutes, Ruhul Kabir Rizvi said the demonstration has been suspended for a short period, and will resume with the next announcement through a press conference.

Hartal gets lukewarm response

The party’s first shutdown in nearly five years hardly got any response with BNP activists and supporters conspicuously absent in the streets. There was no report of violence till the filing of this report.

Daily affairs were unaffected and there were hardly any lack of vehicles on the roads  in the morning.

Police officials deployed in front of BNP’s Naya Paltan office on February 2, 2020 | Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir called for the shutdown on Saturday evening, reviving the hartal culture in Bangladeshi politics.

Jatiya Oikyafront extended its support to the BNP program.

Awami League mayoral candidates were declared elected in Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) and Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC).

The voting ran across a total of 2,468 polling centres of the two city corporations from 8am, and continued till 4pm without any break on Saturday.

Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh won the DSCC polls bagging 424,595 votes, defeating BNP’s Ishraque Hossain by 236,512 votes. In DNCC, Atiqul Islam got 447,211 votes, to defeat BNP’s Tabith Awal by 264,161 votes.

BNP last announced a countrywide nonstop blockade on January 5, 2015 and it continued until April 4, leaving at least 120 people, including policemen dead, mostly in firebomb attacks.

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