`Arson attacks to frame opposition`

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Dhaka, (Jan 6): — The BNP on Sunday alleged ‘government-backed people’ were behind the arson attacks in the city during the ongoing opposition enforced shutdown and said these incidents would be used to frame opposition activists in false cases.

“Police are stopping us even when we are observing a peaceful strike,” party’s Standing Committee member Tariqul Islam said, blaming the law enforcers for besieging his party’s central office.

The BNP-led 18-Party Alliance are trying to enforce a dawn-to-dusk countrywide shutdown protesting against the latest hike in fuel oil prices.

According to reports, suspected pro-strike supporters have torched two buses in the city’s Mirpur area, a private car in Shankharibazar and a microbus in Babubazar areas in the morning. On Saturday, at least six vehicles were set on fire in the city.

As on previous occasions, the government took tight security measures since morning, with police surrounding the BNP central office in Naya Paltan. Tariqul Islam said he had entered his party headquarters after 10:30am braving police barricade.

“There were incidents of vehicle set on fire on the eve of the strike. I’d like to clearly state that no BNP activist was involved with these incidents. The government’s own people were behind these incidents so that the opposition activists could be implicated in false cases.”

“That’s why they (the government) are trying to put blame on the opposition for the arson attacks,” Islam added.

He said a small number of rickshaws and auto-rickshaws were plying the city streets and claimed the BNP supporters were not stopping them.

“But most of the vehicles were not out in the streets and the businesses were shut too,” Islam said adding, “This proves that this is a spontaneous shutdown [as the people are supporting us].”

The Senior BNP leader said: “We have enforced the shutdown for the sake of the people, public transport and the farmers. And so, we have ordered our supporters not to impede vehicular movements anywhere.”

Police have laid a two-stage siege on the BNP headquarters and the Rapid Action Battalion have taken position opposite the central office. The party supporters could not enter the headquarters because of the siege and BNP leaders have alleged that police detained one of their activists from there in the morning.

Only a small number of vehicles were seen plying on the rod in front of the BNP central office since morning.

Coming down hard on the ‘brand of democrcay’ during the regime led by the Awami League, Islam cited the discovery of BNP leader of Dhaka’s Ward No 56 Rafiqul Islam Majumdar’s body. “He (Majumdar) went to the house of his in-laws. RAB had nabbed him and his body was discovered this (Sunday) morning.”

“They (the government) have turned the whole country into a valley of death. This (the death of Majumadar) is a sample of the Awami League-led government’s democracy,” the BNP leader said.

He blamed the government for the disappearance of 156 BNP activists over the past four years. The BNP leader alleged that the police had detained over 200 party supporters ahead of the strike.

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