800-km opposition human wall to oust govt formed |
Thousands of people yesterday locked hands to form a cross-country human wall for the second time in a month, in what opposition leaders say is an expression of people's desire for an immediate step down of the ruling coalition and a paving of the way for early polls.
The 800-kilometre human wall programme passed off peacefully, beginning from Mongla and cutting through 57 upazilas in 18 districts in addition to three metropolitan cities, including the capital, Dhaka before ending at Sunamganj.
The hour-long demonstration, held from 3:00pm to 4:00pm, experienced breaks in the wall at several places, especially along the highways. An organiser said the number of participants and their enthusiasm was not as high as during the Teknaf to Tentulia human wall programme of December 11.
But Awami League (AL) General Secretary Abdul Jalil claimed that more people joined the demonstration than the December 11 programme. He did not offer any estimated figures for the total attendance, however.
The AL parties, along with the left 11-party alliance, the Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JSD) and the National Awami Party (Nap), declared the Sundarbans-to-Sunamganj human wall programme after successfully forming a similar human wall from Teknaf to Tentulia on December 11.
The parties have been in simultaneous agitation against the ruling alliance since November 18, promulgating a common nine-point charter of demands whose ultimate goal is to overthrow the government.
Like the Teknaf to Tentulia human wall, the participants yesterday carried colourful banners, placards, badges, headbands and ribbons, most inscribed with the opposition's nine-point charter of demands and bearing slogans such as, "Down with Khaleda-Nizami Government" and "Oust the War Criminals and Say No to the Alliance". They also chanted anti-government slogans and sang patriotic songs.
Although the demonstration was scheduled to begin at 3:00pm, people gathered and lined up on the roads, highways and city streets much earlier. Various socio-cultural organisations and professional bodies also joined the human wall in a show of solidarity with the opposition's demands, arriving to the human wall route in small processions and at various places by buses and trucks.
The programme drew great attention from locals in areas where the wall passed, as well as from pedestrians and passengers of buses and other vehicles on roads and highways.
The human wall route touching the capital, Dhaka, experienced breaks at several places, including Kamalapur, Basabo, Maniknagar, Madhya Badda and Baridhara.
Top opposition leaders joined the programme in front of the National Memorial in Savar, where Mujahidul Islam Selim, the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB), commenced the demonstration at 3:00pm by blowing a whistle.
Talking to newsmen during the demonstration, Abdul Jalil challenged the government to conduct early polls. "If Prime Minister Khaleda Zia has enough confidence she should arrange a fresh poll immediately and take the people's mandate," he said, while responding to a call from the Prime Minister to place the no-confidence motion before the Parliament. "People from the streets expressed no trust in the government and the current parliament is nothing but the outcome of mass rigging in the last general elections," he said.
Gono Forum President Dr Kamal Hossain said people want a change in the present situation, which can be achieved through a united movement of all secular and democratic parties.
"The majority has turned the Parliament non-functional and it has failed to perform its role," Dr Kamal said, adding, "Opposition members are denied their right to speak there."
Referring to the August 21 grenade attacks, he posed the question, "What role has the parliament played, even after an attempt on the Leader of the Opposition?"
AL leaders Amir Hossain Amu, Syeda Sajeda Chowdhury, Toafel Ahmed, Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim and Obaidul Quader, as well as 11-party leaders Manjurul Ahsan Khan, Rashed Khan Menon, Alhaj Abdus Samad, Pankaj Bhattacharya, Bimal Bishwas and JSD president Hasanul Haq Inu participated in the programme, among others.
Beginning from Mongla in Bagerhat, the human wall went through highways touching the districts of Khulna, Jessore, Jhenidah, Magura, Faridpur, Rajbari, Manikganj, the capital Dhaka, Gazipur, Narayanganj, Narsinghdi, Kishoreganj, Brahmanbaria, Habiganj, Moulaivibazar, Sylhet and Sunamganj.
Our Sylhet and Moulvibazar correspondent reports: In Sylhet and Sunamgonj, the Human wall programme ended without any untoward incidents, stretching peacefully from Sunamganj district headquarters and touching Sylhet city and Moulvibazar town.
Vehicles of all types remained stranded during the programme, causing serious traffic jams throughout the human wall route.
The programme was observed amid heavy security arrangements, including helicopter patrols by Rab teams over various regions of along the route.
AL leader Suranjit Sengupta MP, CPB leader Jashimuddin Mondal , JSD leader Syed Jafar Sazzad, central AL leader and former minister AMA Muhit, former lawmaker Nurul Islam Nahid and Sylhet city mayor Badar Uddin Ahmed Kamran also joined the programme.
Our Khulna correspondent adds: People from different walks of life joined the programme, which stretched here from Phultala to Mongla upazila and touched Khulna city. The AL leaders claimed around five lakh people took part in the human wall programme in Khulna district.
Centarl AL leader Abdul Mannan, Nazmul Haq Prodhan of JSD, Workers' Party leader Prof. Abdus Sattar, and CPB leader Ruhin Hossain Prince were present at the human wall programme.
Our Jessore correspondent adds: A large number of people from remote villages participated in the human wall programme, locking their hands together to express 'non-confidence' in the BNP-led coalition government.
Leaders and workers of the left CPB observed the programme here separately.
Former education minister ASHK Sadique, AL leaders Prof. Rafiqul Islam, Ali Reza Raju, NAP leader Enamul Haque, Workers Party leader Iqbal Kabir Zahid, JSD leader Rabiul Alam and other district leaders of opposition parties were present at the human wall programme.
Our Manikganj and Narayanganoj correspondents also reported that the human wall programme was observed peacefully with a huge participation from opposition leaders and workers.