Sunday, March 11, 2012

Nation on edge

The bubbling tension between the government and the opposition over the BNP rally on Monday, which is expected to cover some one and a half square kilomteres area at Naya Paltan, appears to have spilled into the rest of country.

Allies of BNP are also joining the rally styled 'Dhaka Cholo' and expects it to be a grand gathering.

The government, however, fears that the rally may turn violent since it in reality targets to save the suspected war criminals and hence asked police to prevent it from taking place.

People are keeping their fingers crossed with Dhaka virtually cut off from other parts of the country to stop opposition supporters from coming into the capital. 

Opposition chief Khaleda Zia will address the rally in front of the BNP headquarters. BNP leaders expect that the rally will stretch from Notre Dame College in the east to Kakrail Catholic Church in the west and from Malibagh in the north to Dainik Bangla intersection in the south.

BNP's Dhaka metropolitan unit convenor Sadeque Hossain Khoka said people will stream into the area in droves before Monday noon.

The BNP leaders have said there will be 15 big screens and 300 public address system from Notre Dame College to Shantinagar via Kakrail to broadcast the rally live.

ASM Hannan Shah, head of the BNP committee to ensure security in the rally, was hopeful that they will be able to stage the rally peacefully despite threats and obstacles from the government.

"We will set an example," he said.

BNP leaders have been alleging that the government is preventing BNP supporters from joining the rally by stopping bus and launch services and closing hotels and restaurants in the city.

They started campaign for the rally after getting verbal permission from police. BNP acting secretary-general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, however, expressed his ire on Saturday when police said no written consent was given.

Digital banners and posters for the rally with photos of BNP founder Ziaur Rahman, chairperson Khaleda and senior vice chairman Tarique Rahman have covered the buildings of the area stretching from Notre Dame College to Kakrail.

The front of the BNP office is fully covered with digital banners. Leaders and activists are crowding the place 24 hours.

Several committees of the party are holding a series of meetings at the central office and the Dhaka metropolitan unit office at Maulana Bhasani Auditorium.

Traffic on the road from Notre Dame College to Kakrail halts when a rally is in progress in the area. People use Malibagh to Kamlapur road on those days.

But it is expected that traffic on the city streets will see a severe disruption since opposition supporters will be coming to the rally in processions.

Activists from far-off areas like Mirpur, Uttara or Mohammadpur use buses to meet at a designated place and then join rallies with processions. The buses are kept at Kamalapur, Kakrail, Gulistan and Osmani Udyan.

Awami League had taken a stance against the rally from the beginning. Leaders of its associate organisations have announced that they will be on the streets on Monday.

Activists of the ruling party rallied and took out processions on Sunday in several parts of the city.

They announced to prevent BNP supporters from gathering outside Naya Paltan, leading the citizens to fear a confrontation.