The main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party accused the government on Monday of wanting to kill the party chairperson, Khaleda Zia, by preventing her from travelling abroad for better treatment and giving a wrong explanation of the law.

‘This unelected and illegal government wants to kill the uncompromising leader of democracy, Khaleda Zia, without treatment by misguiding the people and misinterpreting the law,’ BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said addressing a rally.

Jatiyatabadi Kriskak Dal, the farmers’ unit of the party, organised the rally in front of the BNP’s Naya Paltan central office, demanding the resignation of the ruling Awami League government and the release of Khaleda Zia.

Stating that Khaleda Zia is not being given any chance of treatment, Fakhrul termed the recent remarks of the government ministers a cowardly act.

They know that if Khaleda Zia recovers and returns to the people, crores of people will come to the streets on her call. Then they would be destroyed, he said.

Referring to Khaleda Zia’s imprisonment for nine months during the liberation war, the BNP secretary general said, ‘Khaleda Zia is the first woman freedom fighter in Bangladesh. When we said this, they [Awami League leaders] were on fire because they were not involved in the liberation war. They ate the allowance of the Pakistan Army that day.’

Fakhrul urged the country’s people, including farmers, to wake up, bring down this government, and restore democracy.

He said that Khaleda Zia would be freed and the party’s acting chairman, Tarique Rahman, would be brought back to the country through a mass uprising.

Today, people are angry all over the country because this senseless government has kept national leader Khaleda Zia under house arrest, he said.

He accused the government of collaborating in looting Tk 25,000 crore on the one hand and arresting farmers with ropes around their waists for not being able to repay a small loan amount on the other hand.

‘They [Awami League] are a government of robbers; they looted and smuggled money and made a Begum Para in Canada,’ he said, referring to a neighbourhood in Canada housing the family of Bangladeshi corruption accused.

‘Now, it has become difficult for farmers to survive. We have said that farmers should be given subsidies. But they are looting everywhere. Farmers do not get a fair price. They don’t get jobs. Tk 20 lakh is required to get a job as a bribe,’ he said.

Pointing out the police members on duty around the rally, Fakhrul said, ‘I think that no one got a job bribing less than Tk 20 lakh.’

He said that the government was giving various excuses regarding the treatment of Khaleda Zia when the prime minister underwent ear treatment abroad.

‘They [the government] do not want Khaleda Zia to recover. They have taken over everything. They don’t want any opposition. They are looting all in their own way,’ he added.

Criticising the education minister, he said, ‘I heard that her people have eaten up sand worth Tk 6,000 crores. What a surprise!’

The programme was presided over by Krishak Dal president Hasan Jafir Tuhin.

BNP standing committee member Gayeshwar Chandra Roy, vice chairmen Shahjahan Omar, Barkat Ullah Bulu, and Shamsuzzaman Dudu, senior joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi, and joint secretary general Khairul Kabir Khokon spoke at the programme among others.

Although the rally was supposed to start at 2:00pm, people from different districts and upazilas started coming to the rally venue at 11:00am.

The rally spread from Bijoynagar crossing to Fakirapul crossing as several thousand party leaders and activists gathered.