BNP chairperson, Khaleda Zia, addresses a large public meeting in Habiganj town on Saturday.
The Bangladesh Nationalist Party chairperson, Khaleda Zia, on Saturday accused the government and the ruling party men of inciting attacks on the Buddhist community in Ramu to create anarchyi the country. `When Awami League men went to console the monks, they chased them [AL men],' she said, alleging that instead of arresting the ruling party activists, the government was filing `false' case against its political opponents and arresting them. Khaleda made the allegation at a large public meeting at New Field in Habiganj town, two days before prime minister Sheikh Hasina's scheduled visit to Ramu, one of the worst-hit townships in the recent sectarian violence. The BNP chief warned the government of `dire consequences' if it tried to obstruct the opposition's `democratic programmes' in the future and filed cases. Khaleda, also the leader of the opposition in parliament, urged leaders and activists of the BNP-led `18-party' alliance and the people at large to get prepared for the agitation programmes she would announce after the Eid-ul-Azha. It was Khaleda's second rally after she had addressed a large public meeting in Dinajpur town on September 23 as part of her `mass contact' tours to mobilise support for her demand for holding the next general election under a `non-party' caretaker government. She came down hard on the government for keeping the BNP office besieged by police for three days. She said such actions would not be allowed next time. Khaleda alleged that activists of the Awami Legaue and its students' wing Chhatra League were procuring and distributing weapons at various places to create chaos and disorder to snatch away democracy. `Different halls of Rajshahi University have turned into armouries of Awami League men,' she said. About the recent violence on the Rajshahi University campus, she said Chhatra League activists had chased activists of Islami Chhatra Shibir out of the campus. Renewing her demand the BNP chairperson asked the government to hold election under a `non-party neutral' government by dissolving parliament. She urged the Awami League to test its popularity by holding election under a non-party caretaker government. Khaleda said the present Election Commission was `not neutral' and no election would be held under the Awami League government. She alleged that the government had politicised the administration to hold election by staying in power. The opposition leader urged people to vote for her party candidates in the next general elections to ensure development of the country. Khaleda said that the Awami League government had done nothing good for the country rather made their own fortunes by corruption and plunder. `Bangladesh is in the grips of Biswa Behaya (world champion shameless person) and Biswa Chor (world champion thief). The country must be saved from them,' she said. Referring to the recent statement of a driver of a minister's former APS without naming them, she said the minister was involved in Tk 10 crore corruption in recruitment for the railway. Khaleda said some ministers had stolen money from the railway, some ministers committed theft in Padma Bridge project, while some others from share market and family members of the prime minister were involved in all this. The BNP leader said parliament had been turned into a one-party show, alleging that the opposition was not allowed to speak in the house on various national issues and public sufferings. She also censured the Anti-Corruption Commission for not netting those involved in the Hallmark and Sonali Bank scam saying that the ACC did not dare to catch them because `big fishes' were involved in the scandal. Khaleda said none involved in the scandal was arrested as government high- ups, including ministers, ruling party MPs and their relations were involved. On the contrary, she said the ACC was harassing the opposition by filing `false' cases. She warned that the ACC would be `caught' if her alliance came to power. About the missing BNP leader M Ilias Ali, she alleged that government's men had abducted him. She said the people wanted to know the whereabouts of Ilias. She warned that none would spared if Ilias was harmed. Branding the new home minister as corrupt, she said that he would now resort to `extortion' from everywhere. About militancy, Khaleda said it was not BNP but Awami League that had links to militants so it did not arrest and try the perpetrators of the bombings that had taken place during the last AL rule. khaleda said the AL government could not ensure security to anyone and protect independence and sovereignty. `Now a patriotic nationalist democratic government is needed,' she said. The BNP chief reiterated her allegation that Awami League men were involved in the carnage in the BDR headquarters, saying the government did not act in time. `The incident was staged to destroy the BDR and weaken the army,' she said adding that when time would come, `real culprits' would be put on trial. The district unit of the `18-party' alliance organised the rally. Presided over by Habiganj district BNP president Syed Mohammad Faisal, the rally was addressed, among others, by BNP standing committee members Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain and Mirza Abbas, LDP president Oli Ahmed, Khelafat Majlish Ameer Mohammad Ishaq and Jamaat-e-Islami leader Majibur Rahman. Leaders and activists of the alliance assembled in the muddy field as there was heavy shower in Habiganj town before Khaleda's arrival today. A large number of leaders, activists and supporters of BNP and its fronts and components of the `18-party' alliance greeted her at different points on her way to Habiganj from Dhaka. Khaleda left her Gulshan residence for Habiganj at 11:20am and arrived at the meeting venue at around 4:40pm. She left Habiganj for Dhaka at 8:00pm.