By Md. Kamruzzaman
DHAKA, Bangladesh (AA) - Nearly 100,000 leaders and activists from Bangladesh’s main opposition party rallied Saturday in central Dhaka to protest the hike in gas prices and other commodities and to demand the restoration of an election-time caretaker government.
“This movement is for ensuring people’s right to vote and restoring democracy, ousting the fascist Awami League government,” Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) Secretary-General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir told the crowd.
He alleged that the Awami League captured power through a sham election and turned the country into a state of looters and money launderers.
“Whenever Awami League comes to power, they snatch people’s democratic rights and try to turn the country into a one-party nation as they did in 1975,” said Alamgir.
BNP workers chanted slogans against the hike in gas prices, daily commodities and also human rights violations, including enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings, with protesters rounding their foreheads with the national flag.
Party leaders also claimed that in recent months more than one dozen BNP leaders and activists, who were vocal against the unbearable price hike of daily commodities, have been killed by police under directions by the government while others have been victims of enforced disappearances.
Human Rights Watch Saturday urged authorities on Saturday to investigate recent allegations of enforced disappearances and torture, including by members of the police detective branch.
The UN Committee Against Torture described Bangladesh police as a “state within a state, in a review in July 2019.
Citing the previous two national elections in 2014 and 2018 under the administration of Sheikh Hasina as the worst in the history of Bangladesh, BNP leaders warned that no further election would be allowed without the nonpartisan caretaker government.
They alleged that due to the misrule of the Awami League government, huge money has been laundered abroad, putting the economic condition of the country in danger.
Meanwhile, Ganatantra Mancha, an alliance of seven parties, announced Saturday a march and mass campaign program Feb. 11 for the resignation of the Awami League government and holding elections under a neutral government.