BNP on Saturday arranged a doa and milad mahfil seeking early recovery and long life of its chairperson Khaleda Zia on her 76th birthday.
Several hundred BNP leaders and activists gathered at their Nayapaltan central office and joined the programme.
Though the programme was arranged on the occasion of Khaleda’s birthday, nothing was written about it in the banner as the party is apparently trying to avoid formally celebrating their party chief’s birthday as it coincides with the National Mourning Day commemorating the brutal assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
It was written in the banner that the doa mahfil was meant for seeking early recovery of Khaled, salvation of the departed souls of party leaders and activists died of corona and other diseases and assuaging the sufferings of flood victims.
In a brief address, party senior joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi urged all to pray for the wellbeing of their ailing chairperson.
Mentioning that Khaleda’s role in establishing people’s different rights, including the freedom of expression, he said, "She never left people, but stood beside them during their sorrows and woes. She was kept in jail for two years by unjustly sentencing her, but she didn’t bow down when it came to the question democracy. May Allah grant her long life.”
Rizvi claimed that though their chairperson was an innocent person, she was convicted in false cases out of political vengeance. “She has repeatedly risked her life for democracy. She’s now out of jail, but not completely free.”
He said the nation is now going through a difficult time as the government has ‘snatched’ people’s rights, including that of the freedom of expression. “People now don’t dare speak up since the freedom of speech has been sent to ' museum. If someone makes comments on Facebook accounts and if someone shares those, law enforcers are picking him or her up at night.”
Rizvi said law enforcers are sending people to jail after implicating them with false cases or making them disappeared or killing them in crossfire without any trial for expressing their views freely. "This is the state of freedom of expression in the country."
Khaleda and her party used to observe August 15 as her birthday since 1991, but there are controversies about her actual date of birth and even the birth year.
Amid criticisms by Awami League leaders for celebrating her birthday on the National Mourning Day, BNP marked her 72nd and 73rd, 74th and & 75th birthdays through holding doa mahfils instead of cutting any cake.
As in previous four years, the party did not cut any cake to celebrate the birthday in the early hours of Saturday.
“We’ve not taken any programme to celebrate our chairperson’s birthday under the current situation of the country. We’ve not been celebrating it for the last few years with any programme as per Madam’s (Khaleda’s) directives. We only pray for her wellbeing on the day,” BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir told UNB.
Asked whether they backed off from celebrating the birthday on the National Mourning Day to avoid criticisms, he parried the question, saying Khaleda herself does not want to celebrate it under the current situation of the country.
Khaleda was sent to Old Dhaka Central Jail since her conviction in Zia Orphanage Trust graft case by a lower court on February 8, 2018.
On March 25 last, the BNP chief was released from jail for six months upon an executive order considering her age and humanitarian ground following an application by her family. The six-month tenure of the order will end on September 24.
Meanwhile, the nation is observing the National Mourning Day the same day commemorating the assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and most of his family members on August 15, 1975.
BNP on Thursday distributed food items among some workers who have become jobless due to coronavirus.
In collaboration with the Bangladesh Institute of Labor Studies (BILS) and funded by the Dennis Trade Union Development Foundation, BNP senior joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi distributed the food on the ground floor of the party's Nayapaltan central office.
Speaking at the programme, Rizvi said a Danish organisation has funded BILS to help unemployed workers through 11 federations of workers in Bangladesh.
He said Jatiyatabadi Sramik Dal, BNP’s labour wing, got some assistance from the BILS to help the workers.
“Workers are the worst sufferers of the Covid-19 pandemic. They get very poor wages while many factories have been closed down. Besides, the export-oriented RMG industry has also been hit hard and many factories have been shut. So, many workers have become unemployed,” Rizvi observed.
He appreciated Denmark and BILS for standing beside the jobless workers at this difficult time.
The BNP leader said foreigners are now coming to assist the unemployed people around the world and taking various steps in this regard. “But in Bangladesh, we see that the relief materials bought with public money are being found at the homes of Awami League leaders.”
He said though their party leaders have long been going through an adverse situation, they have stood by the poor and destitute to assuage their sufferings.
Claiming that around 3,000 people have been subjected to extrajudicial killings across the country over the last one decade of rule of Awami League, BNP on Thursday demanded proper trial of all such incidents.
"About 3,000 people have been the victims of extrajudicial killings in the country by police, Rab and DB personnel from January 2009 to December 2019, and most of them are opposition leaders and activists,” said BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir.
Speaking at a virtual press conference from his Uttara residence, he also said 795 people died in jail while 601 were made disappeared over the last 10 years.
Besides, the BNP leader said, 7,806 women were raped, 1934 children tortured and 18 children killed during the period.
He said over one lakh political cases have been filed against at least 35 lakh BNP leaders and activists. “These statistics demonstrate that our beloved homeland which was liberated in exchange for the blood of lakhs of martyrs, the honor and chastity of lakhs of mothers and sisters has become now a valley of death.”
Referring to statistics provided by Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK), Fakhrul said 196 people became the victims of extrajudicial killings or custodial deaths from January to July 28 this year while 388 in 2019, 466 in 2018, 162 in 2017 and 195 in 2016.
About the murder of retired army major Sinha Md Rashed, he said his family members filed a case against police for killing him.
“Common people hardly dare file a case against police. As the entire nation has burst into a protest against the killing of the retired army officer, Sinha's family is getting the courage to seek justice. We want a fair trial in the murder of Sinha. We also want trial in all the extrajudicial killings, and we believe justice will prevail if a pro-people government is installed in the country.”
After the killing of Sinha, Fakhrul said, the ISPR informed that the police assured them that such incidents will not recur in the future. "If this is the case, then we want to say the decision to carry out crossfire is taken from the highest level of the police force.”
He said their party has long been repeatedly saying police force used to make false and fabricated stories after the incident of crossfire as “part of a blueprint” of the government to cling to power.
“Our such assertion has proved true following Sinha's assassination. You’ve already noticed the kind of drama that police have staged over Sinha's assassination implicating many innocent people in it. What a wonderful fiction… a crime fiction story has been made to divert the whole thing into a different direction and hide the real culprits,” Fakhrul said.
The BNP secretary general said the government now cannot control law enforcers as it earlier ‘used’ them to ‘eliminate’ the opposition and ‘rig’ votes at the dead night. “This fascist government has become a monster for people. We want an end to this situation. We believe this fascist government will be forced to go through a united movement of the people.”
Fakhrul said the killing of people by law enforcers without any trial never go with the spirit of the Liberation War. "Our constitution does not support it. The incidents of such disappearance, murder and torture to suppress dissent and rivals are considered crimes against humanity under section 2 (2) (a) of the International Crimes Tribunal Act, 1973.”
He said the Awami League government has turned Bangladesh into an ‘anti-humanitarian fascist’ state by taking a stand against the spirit of the Liberation War, the constitution and democracy.
Greeting members of the country’s Hindu community on the occasion of Janmashtami, BNP has urged the people of all religions to contribute towards establishing peace in society by removing unjust and inequalities.
In a message, the party said the people of all religions have been living in Bangladesh for centuries in a bond of mutual friendship and brotherhood.
“We believe in the equal rights of people of all religions. We all have to contribute from our respective positions to make society peaceful by eliminating hatred, bitterness, jealousy inequality, violence, unfairness and injustice,” it said.
It said the Hindus believe that Lord Krishna came to the earth for establishing truth and beauty as he defeated evil force and ensured justice and welfare in society.
“The essence of the religious festival of all religions is to expand the range of harmony and friendship among people,” the party said in the message issued on Monday night in favour of its secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir.
As a country of religious harmony, it said Bangladesh traditionally believes in establishing friendly relations with people of all faiths.
They wished everyone happiness, peace and well-being on this auspicious occasion of Janmashtami.
Janmashtami, the birth of lord Sri Krishna and one of the major festivals of the Hindu community, is being celebrated across the country today (Tuesday) with due religious fervour.
According to Hindu religion, Lord Vishnu incarnated in the universe as Lord Krishna in the prison of Raja Kangsa on this day, the eighth of "Shukla Pakkha" (bright fortnight) in the month of Bhadra in Dwapara Yuga in order to protect "Dharma" from the hands of devils.
BNP on Monday alleged that the Election Commission (EC) is going to unilaterally change the names of local government institutions and their posts at the ‘behest’ of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
"Now the Election Commission has no work as they have sent elections to the graveyard. He (Chief Election Commission) is now trying to rename the Union Parishad as Polli Parishad and the upazila chairman as the Upazila Pita (father), the city mayor the Mahanagar Pita,” said BNP senior joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi.
Speaking at a doa mahfil, he said, “The CEC is changing the long traditional names and systems of the (local govt) institution following the instruction of Sheikh Hasina. He is not taking the opinions of any other political party.”
Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal arranged the programme on the ground floor of BNP’s Nayapaltan Central office seeking salvation of the departed souls of Swechchasebak Dal president Shafiul Bari Babu and BNP’s assistant organising secretary Abdul Awal Khan.
Though the EC is an independent body, Rizvi said the current Chief Election Commissioner and other commissioners have become servants of the government by ruining their independent entity.
According to media reports, the EC has taken a move to rename local government bodies like City Corporation, Municipality and Union Parishad and their posts like mayors and chairmen in Bangla by amending the existing laws.
The Commission also published a proposal in this regard on its website last month seeking views on the amendment to the relevant laws.
About coronavirus, Rizvi said people are being pushed towards death as they are not getting treatment in rural areas after getting infected with the virus.
Stating that he visited some northern districts over the last few days, the BNP leader said people are dying in those areas without treatment as the entire health system has collapsed.
“There's no treatment in rural hospitals. Going to the hospitals there means carrying a sure death certificate in the pocket. This government has not only introduced an inhumane-political culture by resorting to crossfire, enforced disappearance, and killing, they have taken all measures to push the people of the whole country towards death," Rizvi observed.
He also alleged that the government has long been taking mega projects creating scopes for ruling party men to plunder public money, but it didn't develop the health sector. “So, people are now dying of corona infractions at the hospitals and on the roads.”