BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia did not speak of any possible military intervention while addressing a rally in Bogra on Sunday, the party’s spokesperson said on Monday.
The mass media did not present her speech correctly, Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir told a press briefing in the afternoon, adding that “the BNP does not support any military intervention”.
“Coverage of the opposition chief’s speech in Bogra by some newspapers and electronic media was not proper. It has created confusion among people,” he said.
“We want to make it clear that no democratic political party supports intervention by the army. The BNP is completely against military intervention.”
“We believe in democracy,” said the BNP Acting Secretary General. “I hope the journalists will publish the opposition chief’s speech with more care in future.”
Fakhrul at the briefing presented the part of the BNP chief’s speech regarding the army delivered on Sunday at the rally at Bogra’s Matidala intersection.
“The opposition chief referred to the Mar 3 incident at Bogra’s Shahjahanpur. She praised the army for not opening fire on the people and ensuring people’s safety there.”
“Then she said, ‘Our army works in the UN peace-keeping missions abroad. They will carry their duties if there is any disorder in the country. Our army goes abroad to establish peace as a part of the UN peace-keeping missions. If there is no peace in their own country, the foreigners will say the army cannot ensure peace in their own backyard. The time has come today to think of this.”
Fakhrul said, “The army comes to assist the administration if the government calls for them when needed. It has happened in the past. The government calls for army’s help in time of natural disasters and general elections also.”
“But we are against any kind of military rule or intervention. No democratic party wants that,” he added.
Ever since the International Crimes Tribunal-1 sentenced Jamaat-e-Islami leader Delwar Hossain Sayedee to death on Feb 28 on war crimes charges perpetrated during the nation’s Liberation War in 1971, activists of the party, a key ally of the BNP, have been on the rampage across the country.
Bogra was the worst-hit during the latest spell of violence following Sayedee’s conviction. Clashes on Mar 3 had left 12 people dead there.
On the day, four people had died after police were forced to open fire at rampaging Jamaat activists as they attacked the local Shajahanpur Police Station, adjacent to Bogra Cantonment.
Later, troops were deployed for several hours to guard the station and the area.
Khaleda Zia’s speech regarding the army triggered off strong criticism in the country’s political arena.
Ruling Awami League Joint General Secretary Mahbub-ul Alam Hanif on Monday said her remarks were a ‘provocation’ for army intervention.
At a party programme earlier in the day, he said, “The BNP wishes for military intervention as it does not believe in democracy.”
The ruling party leaders at the programme also mentioned the former military ruler and BNP founder Gen Ziaur Rahman in this context.
Responding to Hanif’s comments, the BNP Acting Secretary General said, “The people know very well that President Zia dissolved the one-party rule system and introduced multi-party rule system in 1979.”
“Khaleda Zia established parliamentary democracy in the country. People know who tried to destroy democracy by establishing the one-party BAKSAL rule,” he added.
Earlier in the day, at a press conference held at BNP’s Naya Paltan headquarters, Fakhrul had announced the BNP-led 18-Party Alliance-sponsored 36-hour countrywide shutdown starting from 6am on Mar 27 demanding, among other things, release of their detained leaders and activists.
Fakhrul continued, “The government took the detained opposition leaders and activists on remand and tortured them during the national mourning for late President Zillur Rahman. False charges have also been pressed against the 148 leaders-activists. These are unprecedented and abominable incidents.”
The party spokesperson also mentioned that while honouring the late President, the BNP had observed the three-day national mourning and hoisted the party flag half-mast and that party chief Khaleda Zia paid her respects to Zillur Rahman at the presidential palace, Bangabhaban.
“But police and ruling party goons shot and killed opposition activists on March 21 in Meherpur, Jhenaidah’s Moheshpur, Jessore’s Monirampur, Chougachcha and Rajshahi University during the national mourning. The government did not stop its torture on the opposition,” he said.