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33 top opposition leaders of Bangladesh sent to jail
Publication Date : 17-05-2012
Opposition political activists clashed with police in Bangladesh's capital, Dhaka, yesterday after 33 senior opposition leaders were arrested and sent to jail custody in connection with anti-government protests in April.
To protest the arrest, main opposition party, Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), has enforced a countrywide dawn to dusk shutdown today.
The arrestees include BNP acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir and senior leaders Khandker Mosharraf Hossain, M.K. Anwar, A.S.M. Hannan Shah, Mirza Abbas, Goyeshwar Chandra and former Dhaka mayor Sadeque Hossain Khoka.
A trial court of Dhaka, which is dealing the arson case filed after crackers went off inside the Bangladesh Secretariat and a bus was torched near the Prime Minister's Office during an opposition-enforced strike on April 29, rejected bail petitions of the 33 opposition leaders and sent them to jail custody.
The order came after the leaders surrendered to the trial court and sought bail as advised by the country's High Court.
After the leaders were sent to jail, pro-BNP lawyers got involved in a skirmish with police on the court premises that left 10 people wounded. Police also picked up around 150 people from the court premises but released all but three later on.
Reports of violence and arson across the country also began to pop up. At least 13 vehicles were torched and around 200 others were vandalised across the country.
The BNP meantime demanded the unconditional release of its leaders, withdrawal of the cases against them.
It threatened tougher agitation programme if the demands were not met. More agitation programmes could be declared today.
“We had no plans to call a hartal. But the government forced us to do so. We are urging people to make the hartal a success,” said BNP standing committee member Nazrul Islam Khan while addressing a press briefing yesterday afternoon at the party's central office at Nayapaltan in Dhaka.
Police kept the office cordoned off since the morning and not even BNP activists were allowed near the premises.
A total of 45 leaders and workers of opposition 18-party alliance, including BNP leaders Fakhrul, Mirza Abbas and Ruhul Kabir Rizvi Ahmed; and Liberal Democratic Party President Oli Ahmad, were accused in the arson case.
Meantime, BNP chief Khaleda Zia last night held a meeting with party leaders where she asked all to work together so that the party could overcome this “crisis”, meeting sources said.