The ruling Awami League’s arch-rival raised the demand at a rally organised in front of its central office at Naya Paltan on Saturday to mark its 40th founding anniversary.
Senior leaders of the party attended the rally.
“Our final demand is that (Khaleda Zia) and all political prisoners be released from the jail, and the government will have to resign before the announcement of the schedule,” BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir told the rally.
“The current parliament shall have to be dissolved. The Election Commission shall have to be reconstituted. The army will have to be deployed during the elections.”
The BNP leader said their party chief was jailed in false cases. “There she is not getting medical treatment. I want to tell the public that the country’s leader is in prison for democracy today.”She has lost her husband and a son, and another son has been evicted from the house and exiled. Does she deserve this from the nation?” he continued.
“Today, you have to be brave and turn around—we do not want to see the mother of democracy behind bars. We want to ask the government to immediately release the leader of the country, arrange treatment for her. Otherwise, you have to take all the responsibilities,” Mirza Fakhrul warned.
Standing Committee Member Khandakar Mosharraf Hossain asked the party leaders and workers to launch a street movement.
“Be ready to wage the movement to free democracy and no election is possible before Khaleda walks out of jail.”Pointing to the newly formed Jukto Front, the BNP secretary general Fakhrul said, “No more division now. Let’s unite to protect democracy, the country, the independence and the sovereignty.”
Before going to jail, he said, Khaleda had told them to forge a national unity.
“We welcome those who unite today. We tell them, let’s build a greater national unity to free the country from the misrule and tyranny. ”
Accusing the government of hatching a fresh conspiracy to implicate Tarique Rahman in the Aug 21 grenade attack, the BNP secretary general Fakhrul said, “Before the verdict, it was said that Tarique Rahman will be punished in the August 21 case. Have you taken the responsibility to deliver justice?”
Leaders and workers carrying festoons and banners streamed into the venue stretching from Fakirapool to Kakrail’s Nightingale intersection from 12pm.They also carried portraits of Khaleda and acting chief Tarique.
The BNP chairperson has been imprisoned since Feb 8, following her conviction in the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case.
The last time the BNP held a rally in the capital was on Jan 5, 2016 with Khaleda as chief guest.