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Khaleda call to defy protest ban

- BNP chief will be tried for unleashing terror: Hasina

Dhaka, Dec. 27 (PTI): Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) chief Khaleda Zia today asked Opposition leaders to defy the ban on Sunday’s “March for Democracy”.

Earlier this week, Khaleda asked the people of Bangladesh to march towards Dhaka on Sunday from all over the country to “protect democracy”.

“I hope you will join our gathering and defy all the obstacles that are being placed in our way, so that we can save democracy,” Zia said in a video message shortly after the police banned Sunday’s rally.

“You will carry on with the movement until the fall of the government even if I cannot stay beside you,” Khaleda said.

“The Opposition has been denied permission,” police spokesman Masudur Rahman told reporters. He said permission was refused because of security breaches in Dhaka.

Speaking today at her hometown of Gopalganj, western Bangladesh, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed warned Khaleda that she will be detained one day for unleashing terrorism and killing people in the name of anti-government protests.

“We believe in justice, the Opposition leader will be charged for giving orders for killing and burning people to death in the name of movement and, Inshallah, her trial would be held on Bangladesh soil to this end, and we will hold this trial,” she said.

Commenting on Sunday’s anti-government march to Dhaka, the Awami League president said Khaleda has planned the march on her day of defeat.

But Khaleda today said: “This march will be historic, we have named it ‘March for Democracy’... I urge all able-bodied countrymen cutting across religion and class to join the rally on December 29,” Khaleda said.

She demanded that the January 5 elections be shelved as “it could be the last nail in the coffin of democracy”. The BNP chief accused Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed of “killing democracy to consolidate power for ever”.

The government has vowed to resist the march, saying it was a plan to expose the country to total anarchy.

“We will not allow her to create anarchy,” Quamrul Islam Chowdhury, state minister for law, told reporters yesterday.

Police in riot gear have taken positions around Khaleda’s house, stopping party activists and visitors from entry into the BNP leader’s house since Wednesday night.

Earlier today, a policeman was killed after suspected activists of the BNP and its ally, the Jamaat-e-Islami, hurled a bomb at a police van.

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