BNP supporters clashed with police in the days following Khaleda Zia’s incarceration. Did BNP call for violent protests? Except for Chhatra Dal, all the leaders say they did not.
On February 9, the police arrested 200 BNP men who were staging demonstrations in protest of of Khaleda Zia’s incarceration. The Daily Star reported that these arrests happened as the party members tried to bring out processions at different points. One group was arrested as they tried to join Khaleda Zia’s motorcade when it was heading towards the Bakshibazaar court. Another group was arrested as they tried to march towards the BNP main office in Fakirapool. Yet another group starting from the party office, faced obstruction from the police.
Outside of Dhaka, 10 people were injured when the police faced a BNP procession in Tangail. As the police tried to disperse the crowds, a clash ensued. Narayanganj police tried to stop a procession led by Juba Dal and pick up four people in the process. In all these cases, the police claimed that the demonstrators were getting violent, whereas the demonstrators claimed that the police were impeding on their right to congregate. It should however be added that within Dhaka, the Dhaka Metropolitan Police issued a directive banning all rallies starting February 8.
In a press conference prior to her arrest, Khaleda Zia had asked all party members to continue with peaceful protests without any violence. In another press conference, her party’s secretary-general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir reiterated BNP’s commitment to peaceful protests.
However, a bus was set on fire in Satkhira, leading the police to file a case against 16 BNP leaders. In addition, BNP sympathizers barged into the Bangladesh High Commission in London and ripped up photos of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Meanwhile Dhaka Tribune interviewed several anonymous party men who claimed that they are prepared for violence. The report states, “[…] seeking anonymity, several members of BNP student wing Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal said they would follow the party high command’s instruction to hold peaceful protest, but if the law enforcement officials and the Awami League men on the street became aggressive, the Chhatra Dal men would retaliate in kind.”