AL, BNP gear up for show of strength
The ruling Awami League will hold "peace rallies" in Dhaka and five other metropolitan cities today in an apparent bid to counter the BNP rallies at the divisional headquarters across the country.
The BNP rallies are aimed at garnering support for its 10-point demand, which include holding the next national election under a non-partisan government.
The other cities where the AL will organise rallies are Mymensingh, Chattogram, Sylhet, Khulna, and Rangpur.
The central committee members of the party have asked local leaders and activists in those cities to keep an eye on BNP's activities, insiders said.
BNP leaders say AL's counter programmes have created unnecessary tension in these cities and the ruling party was trying to instigate violence to foil BNP's pre-scheduled events.
In Dhaka, the BNP rally will be held in front of the party's Nayapaltan headquarters around 2:00pm while the AL's Dhaka City (south) unit will hold its rally on the premises of Kamrangirchar Hospital to denounce "BNP's terror and anarchy" around 3:00pm.
Chattogram city BNP will hold its divisional rally in the Kazir Dewri area. AL's "peace rally" will be held at Anderkilla intersection, which is around 2km away from Kazir Dewri.
"It is unexpected that the Awami League will hold a rally on the same day at the same time as us. They will be responsible if any untoward incident happens," Chattogram City BNP President Shahadat Hossain told The Daily Star.
However, Chattogram City AL Vice-President Khorshed Alam Sujon said the venue for the AL rally is nowhere near the BNP's venue and there was no way to see it as an instigation.
In Sylhet, the city AL will hold a rally around 3:00pm, an hour after the BNP event.
The BNP earlier fixed the Registrar's Office premises as the venue. But the AL on Wednesday announced that it would hold the "peace rally" at the same place.
A day later, the AL changed the venue to Sylhet Central Shaheed Minar.
Sylhet BNP President Abdul Quiyum Choudhury said the AL did this to "disrupt our peaceful rally".
Professor Zakir Hossain, general secretary of the Sylhet City AL, said, "Our peace rally is to remind the people that the BNP has taken a destructive path to create an impediment to development."
In Khulna, the BNP will hold a rally on the city's KD Ghosh Road area around 2:00pm while the AL's event will be held at Shibabari intersection.
Khulna City BNP Convenor Shafiqul Alam Mona, said, "BNP's Khulna rally on October 22 was peaceful. But the Awami League prevented people from joining it. A BNP activist was also killed in an attack… Since most of the BNP men are likely to attend the rally commuting through the Awami League venue, our activists are in fear of attacks."
Khulna City AL Office Secretary Munshi Mahbub Alam Sohag said apart from some isolated incidents, no clash between the AL and the BNP has ever taken place in Khulna.
In Rangpur, the BNP will hold its event at the Grand Hotel intersection while the AL will hold a rally on the Public Library premises.
Mymensingh City AL will hold its rally on the Gymnasium premises around 11:00am while the BNP's event will be held at Mymensingh Polytechnic Institute ground around 2:00pm.
[Our Chattogram, Sylhet, Rangpur, Khulna, and Mymensingh correspondents contributed to this report.]