The main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party held a rally and brought out a colourful procession in the capital on Saturday marking the 53rd Victory Day.

After 49 days of its October 28 Dhaka rally that was foiled amid attacks by the police and ruling Awami League activists, a huge number of BNP leaders and activists gathered in front of the party’s Naya Paltan central office before bringing out a the Victory Day procession amid tight security.

Addressing the rally, BNP standing committee member Abdul Moyeen Khan asked the Awami League to step down from power and hold election under a non-party government had it got the courage.

He said that the AL government took away the people’s voting and democratic rights and filled prisons with protesting people.‘Democracy was the main spirit of our War of Independence, but the Awami League turned Victory Day into “defeat day” by killing democracy,’ he said.

The BNP leader said that then Pakistani government had looted money by creating ‘22 families’. ‘We wanted an independent country where people would get economic freedom, but of the 22 families, the AL government now created a class with 220 families and looted the money of the country,’ he added.

The BNP’s Victory Day procession started from its Naya Paltan central office at about 2:25pm and ended after paraded Kakrail, Shantinagar and Malibagh areas.

Before bringing out the procession, a rally was held at a makeshift stage set up on pickup vans in front of the locked BNP office with vice-chairman Nitai Roy Chowdhury in the chair.

The BNP central office has remained under lock and key since the evening of October 28 with law enforcement agencies guarding the office round the clock.

Addressing the rally, another BNP standing committee member Nazrul Islam Khan said, ‘The 2014 election was candidate-less while the 2018 election was held at night and this time the election became a dummy election.’

He said, ‘In the dummy election, it has already been decided who will be election from which seat. It makes no sense to spend crores of takas in the name of such an election,’ he added.

The BNP leader also said, ‘The AL government is going to stage a mockery in the name of the national election on January 7. The country was not liberated to make such a joke of an election.’

He urged people not to join any activities of the January 7 election. 

Leaders and activists of all thanas and ward units of the BNP and its associated bodies in Dhaka city took part in the programme.

The opposition leaders and supporters chanted slogans against the January 7 election, calling it ‘one-sided’ and demanding cancellation of the election schedule for holding a fair and inclusive election under a neutral government.

Additional police were seen deployed in Naya Paltan and its adjacent areas during the BNP rally and procession.

Earlier in the day, the party paid homage to the martyrs of the War of Independence placing wreaths at the National Mausoleum at Savar marking Victory Day.

The BNP also paid tribute at the grave of BNP founder and former president Ziaur Rahman.After the party’s foiled rally on October 28, most of the party leaders went into hiding to avoid arrest amid a crackdown launched by law enforcers.

Over 20,000 BNP leaders and activists, including its secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, have been arrested since the last week of October.