Suruj Mia, 55, along with 20 to 25 others, were warming themselves around a fire at the southwest corner of the Government Alia Madrasah ground in Chouhatta area of Sylhet city at around 5 am on Saturday.

The divisional mass rally of Bangladesh National Party (BNP) will be held at the venue at 2 pm today, Saturday.

The party has been organising the rallies protesting against the price hike of essential commodities, demanding the next parliamentary election under a caretaker government and the release of BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia.

When Prothom Alo correspondent asked Suruj Mia why he turned up despite the hardship and cold, he said, "I was unable to vote for two terms. I feel very sad. I want my voting rights back. So I rushed at the call of BNP."

Suruj Mia is a resident of Dighirpar village of Tahirpur upazila in Sunamganj.

He said he reached Sylhet on Friday evening in five and a half hours by motorbike from Sunamganj. He supports BNP.

Suruj Mia is a farmer. When he was talking to Prothom Alo, others with him said he spoke the truth.

It was bitter cold and foggy early in the morning. Many huddled and slept under blankets at the ground. Some were seen chatting, some warming themselves around a fire.

Along with Suruj Mia, BNP leaders and activists from Nabiganj in Habiganj and Companiganj in Sylhet were also warming themselves around the fire.

Amid the transport strike, they reached Sylhet city on Friday evening overcoming many obstacles. Later, they passed the entire night without sleep at the rally venue.

Azizur Rahman, 29, is a joint convener of Nabiganj upazila of Habiganj. He is a resident of Noagaon village of the upazila.

Azizur said cases were filed against him and fellow political activists because of supporting the 20-party alliance candidate Reza Kibria in the parliamentary election in 2018.

He was in the jail for a long time. He was acquitted of the case in October. Although he did not commit any crime, he had been harassed by the case. He is aggrieved because of this. He expressed solidarity with the rally to get back the voting rights.

Several hundred leaders and activists from Biswanath of Sylhet took position in front of the rally on Friday evening.

They said they took position there since Friday evening. Many of these leaders and activists have been implicated in cases. They also came to protest against their 'disappeared' former MP and organising secretary M Ilias Ali.