BNP demands unconditional release of Khaleda, warns of consequences

Mirza Fakhrul speaks at a rally in the capital's Naya Paltan area on 29 June, 2024.Sajid Hossain

BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir has urged the government to immediately free the party's ailing chairperson and thrice-former prime minister Khaleda Zia, without any conditions attached.

Otherwise he warned of dire consequences.

"We would like to clearly say, free our leader immediately (without any conditions).' Otherwise, you have to get ready for any consequence," he told a mammoth rally in the capital, the BNP's largest public show of strength this year, that started with the party boycotting the 7 January election.

The BNP leader also said the country's people will no longer let Khaleda stay in jail.

Stating that the country is not safe in the hands of the current 'looter regime', he called upon the country's people to take to the streets to remove Awami League from power.

He also said their party will intensify the movement to protect the country from Awami League's misrule and restore people's lost rights.

Fakhrul said the government has jailed Khaleda and many BNP leaders with an intention to obliterate democracy.

Recalling the BNP chief's role in different democratic movements, Fakhrul said there is no scope to separate Khaleda and the country's democracy.

BNP arranged the rally in front of its Nayapaltan central office, demanding the unconditional release of Khaleda Zia.

It was in fact the first major rally arranged by BNP in eight months since the pivotal events of 28 October last year, following almost the entire leadership of the party active in Bangladesh was jailed.

BNP standing committee member Mirza Abbas, one of the first to be picked up in the ensuing crackdown alongside Mirza Fakhrul, presided over the rally.

He said the country is now filled with thieves and plunderers in the absence of democracy and the rule of law.

In such a situation, he called upon the BNP leaders and workers to take to the streets with a strong resolve to have Khaleda Zia freed from jail without any conditions, and to restore democracy in the country.

"We would like to say our leader Khaleda Zia must be freed. When thieves and criminals are being freed, what is the problem in freeing her?" the BNP leader said.

He said they will not stop their movement without the unconditional release of Khaleda Zia, as they believe democracy will not be restored without her.

BNP standing committee members Gayeshwar Chandra Roy, Nazrul Islam Khan, Amir Khosru Mahmud Chowdhury, and Begum Selima Rahman, among others, addressed the rally.