BNP threatens ‘nonstop’ shutdownStaff Correspondent
The opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party on Friday threatened to enforce a nonstop shutdown if the government failed to produce its leader Elias Ali alive.
In response to home minister Sahara Khatun’s call for withdrawal of Sunday’s strike, the acting BNP secretary general, Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, said, ‘Elias Ali has not been traced yet even though 48 hours have passed since he went missing. The strike would be withdrawn the moment Elias is produced before the people. Otherwise there would be a nonstop shutdown.’
Fakhrul issued the warning after a joint meeting of the party’s Dhaka city unit at its central office in the city.
Leaders of BNP at separate programmes on Friday reiterated their demand for finding out Elias Ali and returning him to his family otherwise threatened to go on a vigorous movement to dislodge the government and put it on trial.
They said Elias had been ‘abducted’ by the government because he was playing a ‘key role’ in mobilising the people against the move to construct a dam at Tipaimukh, killing of Bangladeshi nationals on borders and India’s ‘aggressive activities’ at various points in Sylhet.
The party’s standing committee member MK Anwar at a human chain in front of the National Press Club asked the government to return Elias Ali or face an ‘oust government’ movement.
‘The prime minister and her entire government will be brought to justice for the disappearance of Elias,’ he said at the programme organised by Swadhinata Forum.
Accusing the government of being behind Elias’s disappearance, Anwar said, ‘Intimidation of the opposition would not work. Consequences will not be pleasant if Elias is not returned in good health.’
He said more than 200 people had disappeared in three years of this government.
At another human chain organised by Sammilita Peshajibi Parishad, BNP standing committee member Nazrul Islam Khan castigated
the prime minister for her remarks that BNP was staging a drama by hiding Elias. ‘Such remarks suit only her. She has to take the responsibility for Elias’s disappearance and return him. When her home minister is claiming that the government is embarrassed, she makes a fun of Elias’s disappearance.’
Party standing committee member Gayeshwar Chandra Roy alleged that Elias was abducted at the instruction of the government. He said India and Bangladesh were conducting a ‘joint operation’ against ‘terrorism’ and the two governments were targeting anyone who spoke against them. ‘Elias is a victim of the plot,’ he claimed.
Standing committee member Mirza Abbas said the government was pretending that it did not know anything about Elias’s disappearance. ‘If it is so, the government will disappear one day,’ he said.
Former student leaders, most of whom are now BNP leaders, at a news conference announced a rally for April 25 at the Central Shaheed Minar demanding that the government immediate return Elias to his family.
BNP joint secretary general Amanullah Aman at the news conference accused the government of abducting Elias. He said a ‘certain group’ comprised of ‘local and foreign actors’ was out to silence any dissenting voice and Elias disappeared in the way Dhaka ward commissioner Chowdhury Alam and Nazmul Islam of Jessore had disappeared.
Former student leaders Shamsuzzaman Dudu, Asaduzzman Ripon, Ruhul Kabir Rizvi, Khairul Kabir Khokan, Fazlul Huq Milan, Shahiduddin Chowdhury Annie, Nazimuddin Alam, Shirin Sultana, Mostafizur Rahman Babul, Habibunnabi Khan Sohel, Saifuddin Moni and Khandakar Lutfar Rahman were present at the news conference.
Reports from Sylhet said the district unit of Jatiya Manabadhikar Society, a human rights forum, formed a human chain in the city demanding immediate return of Elias to his family.
The organisation at a rally at Court Point urged the government to take steps to find the BNP leader out.
They also asked the government to inform the family of the whereabouts of Chhatra Dal Sylhet district unit joint-secretary Iftekhar Ahmed Dinar and his party colleague Junayed Ahmed. Dinar and Janayed reportedly went missing from Uttara in Dhaka on April 3.
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