BNP Senior Joint Secretary General Ruhul Kabir Rizvi has led a procession near the Motijheel Ideal School and College as the opposition party’s nationwide blockade programme resumed for the fourth time.
“[The government] cannot stop the peaceful blockade programme, which aims to re-establish the people's right to vote, by naming our leaders and activists in false cases and arresting them along with the general people. People from across the country have taken to the streets. We’re holding a peaceful programme and our leaders and activists will remain on the streets,” Rizvi said before the march began.
The ruling party activists are burning buses and engaging in sabotage during the blockade while blaming the BNP, Rizvi claimed as he urged activists to remain vigilant.
Rizvi led a procession of 15 to 20 leaders and activists including Rafiqul Islam, Parvez Reza Kakon and Mahbubul Islam at 7 am on Sunday.
The political temperature in Bangladesh has been rising in recent weeks as the BNP, the country's largest opposition group, continues to press ahead with its campaign to replace the Awami League government with a non-partisan one ahead of the election.
As part of its campaign, the BNP organised a mass rally at Dhaka's Naya Paltan on Oct 28. But the event was marred by deadly clashes with the police, leading the opposition group to declare a hartal for Oct 29.
They subsequently enforced a nationwide blockade from Oct 31 to Nov 2, with a one-day break. At the end of the shutdown, another 48-hour blockade was announced for Nov 5 and Nov 6.
The BNP's call for a blockade garnered support from like-minded parties, and Jamaat-e-Islami, a long-time ally of the party, initiated a similar programme separately.
The road, rail and river blockade resumed for the fourth time on Sunday and will continue until 6 am on Tuesday.
Long-haul buses are not operating due to a dearth of passengers amid the blockade but city buses, autorickshaws and private cars are running on the streets. Police are on alert at different intersections in the city.
The BNP office at Naya Paltan is still under police guard and its gate is locked. Police cordoned off the office following the Oct 28 rally. Currently, no BNP leaders and activists are at the location.
Many senior BNP leaders, including Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, have been arrested while others went into hiding. Rizvi has been announcing the party’s statements and programmes from an unknown location via virtual press briefings. He only appears in public for brief processions.
The law enforcers arrested more than 13,386 leaders and activists as of Oct 28, the BNP senior joint secretary general claimed.