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BNP stages nationwide gas price hike protests

  • Published at 12:24 pm March 2nd, 2017
  • Last updated at 10:21 pm March 2nd, 2017
BNP stages nationwide gas price hike protests
BNP held countrywide protests yesterday against the latest government decision to hike the price of gas by Tk300 in all sectors over two phases starting this month. Our correspondents from Chittagong, Barisal, Meherpur and Faridpur reported sin-in programmes. However, the protest programme in Narayanganj lasted for half the duration since police did not allow BNP’s local unit to stage the sit-in for the full two hours. As part of the pre-announced protests, BNP and its associate organisations staged a two-hour sit-in from 10am on the Engineers’ Institute premises in Dhaka, where BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir urged the government to withdraw the decision immediately. [caption id="attachment_50067" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]Narayanganj_district-Bnp_edited Protesters in Narayanganj, where the programme lasted for half the duration as police did not allow BNP’s local unit to stage the sit-in for the full two hours Dhaka Tribune[/caption] Terming the government undemocratic and public-unfriendly, Fakhrul said the government did not care for the people’s support and suffering as it had come to power unelected. The latest government decision on the gas price hike proves the allegations, he claimed. “The country is not in such a condition that we need to increase gas prices. The government still did it due to its lax accountability,” he said, adding that the decision will affect the country's industrial sector as well. According to the BNP leader, the government did not stop there and was mulling over whether to increase electricity prices too, which he said would add to the woes of citizens. [caption id="attachment_50068" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]The protests were largely peaceful, as demonstrated by these protesters at Meherpur Dhaka Tribune The protests were largely peaceful, as demonstrated by these protesters at Meherpur Dhaka Tribune[/caption] Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) on February 23 announced the increase by a weighted average of 22.7%. For households, the hike is 55-60% while the figure is 33% for transportation. The government decision appeared as a gross violation of a BERC law prohibiting the regulator from raising gas prices twice annually. According to the February 23 government decision, household consumers will have to pay Tk750 for single burners and Tk800 for double burners every month against the previous bills of Tk600 and Tk650 for single-burner and double-burner stoves respectively. From the second phase scheduled for June, the price for single burners was set to go up to Tk900 and to Tk950 for double burners. However, the High Court on Tuesday stayed the second phase for six months. On a separate note, Fakhrul said BNP will not accept the next general election if it is held without the opposition party’s participation, adding that the party will protest any such attempt. [caption id="attachment_50073" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]Manikganj-BNP-2edited Animated BNP supporters at the protest in Manikganj Dhaka Tribune[/caption] He also accused the government of not allowing BNP to hold rallies or protest programmes in front of its Naya Paltan office, despite repeated requests for permission. He further alleged that the government had been signing deals with foreign countries, especially a neighbouring state, without of considering Bangladesh's interests. BNP senior leader Amir Khosru Mahmud Chowdhury at the programme said the government was depriving citizens of their right to vote as they would do anything in order to remain in power. Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain, another senior leader, said the latest gas price hikes were meant to misappropriate the people’s money. Terming the newly formed Election Commission as loyal to the ruling party, he said they will not organise a participatory election.
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