Jatiya Oikya Prokriya, led by Dr Kamal Hossain, held a citizens’ rally here on Saturday giving the government until September 30 to meet its three-point demand, including steps for the formation of an election-time neutral government through discussions with the political parties.
Their two other demands are taking effective steps for reconstituting the Election Commission and dissolving parliament before the announcement of the election schedule.
Oikya Prokriya also announced to hold rallies across the country with the presence of national leaders from October 1 to involve people in their unity process.
Engineer Sheikh Muhammad Shahidullah, convener of the National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas and Mineral Resources, Power and Ports, read out an announcement of the citizens’ rally.
Jatiya Oikya Prokriya arranged the rally at Mahanagar Natya Mancha in the city as part of its efforts to create a greater national unity to ensure a ‘functional democracy’ in the country through holding a credible national election. Dr Kamal presided over the rally.
Top leaders of BNP, its some alliance partners, Bikolpo Dhara Bangladesh, Jataiya Samajtantrik Dal (JSD-Rob), Nagorik Oikya, Ganosanghati Andolon and different other political parties and some civil society members joined the rally, and extended their support to the demands.
Oikya Prokriya also urged people to form committees of the Greater National Unity in all the districts upazilas, unions and words comprising all the political parties, individuals, the people of all walks of life and civil society members who believe in the spirit of the Liberation War to realise the demands of the mass people through united and peaceful programmes.
The Election Commission’s ‘failure’ to hold the recent local government elections in a fair and neutral manner has exposed again that a credible election is not possible under a political government, said the announcement of the rally. “A unity has also been created among people over the matter. So, today’s rally extended solidarity to the five-point demand and nine targets announced by Oikya Prokriya and Jukta Front at the Jatiya Press Club for a fair and impartial election on September 15.”
The rally also demanded that legal and justified rights be ensured for BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia as she has been jailed unfairly by hindering the normal process of justice.
It also demanded the government release the arrested students as they waged quota reform and safe roads movements and leaders and activists of all political parties after withdrawing the ‘false’ cases filed against them.
The citizens’ rally also urged the government not to arrest leaders and activists of any political party until the national election is over.
Speaking at the rally as the chief guest, Bikolpo Dhara Bangladesh president, AQM Badruddoza Chowdhury said they are in discussions with different political parties and individuals, including BNP to strengthen the national unity. “We think our efforts will be successful.”
He, however, said they will not forge the national unity with those who were against the Liberation War. “The national unity can be intensified with only those who are pro-liberation forces. It’s time for putting up a resistance …and realising demands.”
B Chowdhury, also a former president, criticised the government for its ‘failure’ to ensure the security of people, including women and children, check extrajudicial killing, enforced disappearance, corruption, bribery and maintain law and order.
He also slammed the government for attacking and torturing students.
The former president also questioned as to why the political parties need to take permission from the police to hold rallies and meetings while the ruling can do it anywhere anytime as per its wish. “We’ll hold rallies by taking permission from people, not from the police, in the days to come.”
He also castigated the government for its failure to realise the fair share of Teesta water from India over the last 10 years.
Speaking at the programme, Dr Kamal Hossain said they are putting in their best efforts to empower people and restore their voting rights.
He said the country now has been under misrule as political opponents of the ruling party are being constantly harassed.
Mentioning that some people are sensing a conspiracy behind the national unity process, Dr Kamal said those who fear people are insulting people by calling their efforts to get united as a plot.
“Bangabandhu had given me the responsibility for formulating the Constitution of the just-liberated country. It’s my best achievement. Personally, I’ve nothing else to get. As a political activist, it’s my sacred duty to ensure the empowerment of people as per the Constitution,” he said.
Kamal, also the president of Gono Forum, said they are trying to forge the national unity to ensure a functional democracy and the rule of law and neutral enforcement of law by restoring people’s voting, basic, human and constitutional rights.
“People are giving a tremendous response to our call as they’re united over the basic issues. Time has come to unite the like-minded parties. I believe our efforts will yield a positive outcome.”
Speaking at the rally, BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir thanked Dr Kamal Hossain and B Chowdhury for taking steps to forge the national unity as the government is trying to establish a one-party rule by destroying democracy.
“There’s no alternative to forging the unity to get rid of misrule of this government, and remove it from power,” he said.
Fakhrul also said their chairperson Khaleda Zia gave them a message from jail to create the national unity to oust the ‘fascist regime’ and restore democracy.
He said the government is now implicating their party leaders and activists in ‘ghostly’ cases to keep people away from election.
The BNP leader said people will lose their basic rights while the country’s independence will be at stake if a pro-people government cannot be established removing the current one.
Fakhrul said most political leaders at the rally made almost similar demands, including resignation of the government, dissolution of parliament, installation of an election-time government, reconstitution of EC, deployment of army and cancellation of EVM use decision, for holding the next polls in a fair and credible manner.
He called upon the national leaders to launch a united movement to force the government to release Khaleda Zia, all political prisoners, and ensure a fair and credible election. “We must get united for it. We’ve made a good progress over forging the national unity through this rally. We hope we’ll be able to forge the unity very soon under the leadership of the national leader and move forward.”
He also called upon all to join the movement for realising people’s all the demands.