The main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party on Tuesday announced a four-day fresh anti-government programme starting today to press home its demands for the release of BNP chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia and the resignation of the Awami League government.

BNP joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi unveiled the programmes at a press conference at the party’s Naya Paltan central office, saying that the programmes were taken at a meeting of the party standing committee held virtually on Monday night.

As part of the programme, the party on August 16 will arrange prayers in all metropolitan cities, districts, and upazilas, seeking recovery of Khaleda’s health.

On Thursday, the party’s leaders and activists will distribute leaflets countrywide demanding Khaleda’s immediate release and proper treatment.

On Friday, the opposition will simultaneously stage mass processions in all metropolitan cities, including Dhaka, demanding the resignation of the ruling Awami League.

Road marches will be organised in metropolitan cities and districts to put pressure on the government to accept the BNP’s demands on Saturday.

In the press conference, Rizvi complained that the strategy of the ‘midnight’ government to empty the electoral field before the 2018 election was being repeated now.

‘The government is playing the game of making the leaders and activists of the BNP and its affiliates disappear by filing fictitious cases, making mass arrests, conducting house-to-house raids, making repeated arrests from jail gates in pending cases, and imprisonment. Basically, there was no election in 2018. It was a fraud on the people and a farce in the name of the vote,’ he said.

Rizvi alleged that several leaders and activists of the BNP and opposition parties died of torture and lack of treatment in jail.

‘Access to medical treatment is a fundamental right of every citizen. However, during their [AL] tenure, most opposition party leaders died without treatment in prison,’ he said.

He said that former prime minister Khaleda Zia had been detained on false charges for five and a half years.

‘She is not allowed to go abroad for better treatment,’ Rizvi said, adding that party vice-chairman Abdus Salam Pintu was not allowed to attend his mother’s namaz-e-janaza and see his mother’s body despite being granted parole.

‘After completing all the procedures for release on parole, he [Pintu] was again sent back to prison while being transported to the jail gate. According to the high command’s instructions, he was not allowed to participate in his mother’s funeral,’ Rizvi alleged.