The BNP and 32 other like-minded opposition parties staged a procession of showdowns Friday in different parts of the capital, by way of the first joint programme in what is being billed as a collective movement to take down the incumbent government and set the stage for free and fair elections.
They also separately announced sit-in programmes across the country on January 11 as their next course of action, to press home their 10-point demand, including the recurrent government’s resignation and formation of a polls-time caretaker government.
Meanwhile, the leaders and activists of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami locked in clashes with police in the city's Malibagh, Paltan and Motijheel areas, as they tried to bring out processions as part of the simultaneous movement.
Police dispersed the Jamaat leaders and activists by lobbing teargas shells and firing rubber bullets, leaving at least 10 people injured. Police also arrested some leaders and activists of the Islamist party, according to UNB.
BNP brought out a massive procession from in front of the party's Nayapaltan area around 3:30pm. It ended at Moghbazar after parading different roads through Bijoynagar, Kakrail, Shantinagar and Malibagh intersections.
In a brief address before the procession commenced, BNP standing committee member Khandaker Mosharrf Hossain, who has been acting as the party's main spokesman since the December 9 arrest of secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Alamgir, announced a 4-hour sit-in programme-from 10am to 2pm--across the country for January 11.
InHe said their party will observe the programme in front of their Nayapaltan central office in the capital"We believe that the parties and alliances which have organised the mass procession programme today (Friday) will also announce the mass sit-in programme. By carrying out this program, the government will be shown warning signal number 2," he said.
BNP policymakers said the programme was worked out for January 11 keeping in mind the political changeover that took place on that day in 2007 - an episode popularly known as 1/11 in the country.
Mosharraf said the Awami League candidate in Rangpur city polls lost her security money as people are not with this party. "The country's people have given a signal to the government through these results. It has been proved again that the ruling party will face miserable defeat If there is a fair election anywhere in the country."
He also said the days of the Awami League government are numbered, and Bangladesh will be run by Khaleda Zia and Tarique Rahman in the future.
The BNP leader claimed that their peaceful programmes have drawn a huge response and also widely appreciated by the international community, so they want to continue in the same vein.
Stating that the government will not quit power willingly, he said they will force the regime to step down through a mass uprising. "For this, more programs will be announced gradually."
Mosharraf said around 24,000 opposition leaders and workers, including BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul and standing committee member Mirza Abbas, have been kept in jail. "But the government still could not suppress the BNP leaders and workers. "People have taken to the streets and the government could not suppress them by keeping guards in the different points and lanes."
Around 33 like-minded political parties, including the BNP, arranged the mass-procession programme in the capital at different times to push for the 10-point demand, including the resignation of the government, dissolution of parliament, transfer of power to a non-partisan caretaker government and formation of a new election commission.
Today's programme was originally slated for December 24, but BNP agreed to reschedule upon realising that the national council programme of the Awami League was already set for that date. The same programme was then pushed back to today. A similar programme was also held in Rangpur as it was rescheduled because of city polls.
Earlier in the day, the Ganatantra Moncho brought out a mass procession from the Jatiya Press Club around 11am.
The procession ended at the Nightingale intersection in Kakrail after parading different roads through the Paltan intersection and Bijoynagar Road.
The leaders of the platform also announced a countrywide sit-in programme for January 11.
The leaders and workers of the 12-party alliance brought out a procession from the water tank at Bijoynagar around 2:30pm and declared the sit-in programme for January 11. Most if not all of the leaders in the alliance said they will continue the movement until final victory is achieved.
Jatiyatabadi Samamona Jote, comprising 11 opposition parties, took out their procession in front of the Jatiya Press Club at 3pm, and also announced to hold the sit-in programme on January 11.
Leaders of the LDP brought out a mass procession separately from their central office near FDC in the afternoon.
A huge number of law enforcers were deployed at different points of the city centring the opposition's mass-procession programme.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh Chhatra League leaders and activists took up positions at the Shahbagh intersection, harping on past allegations of arson and violence by BNP-Jamaat men.