Bangladesh Nationalist Party’s divisional rally in Rajshahi began on Saturday morning, with the presence of thousands of leaders and activists of the party and its associate bodies.
The rally began at about 9:30am at the city’s Haji Mohammad Mohsin School Ground.
Though the rally was scheduled to begin at 2:00pm, it started in the morning with the national anthem.
Golam Mostafa, a member of the mass rally media committee and former organising secretary of Rajshahi district unit of BNP, said that all the central leaders were now in Rajshahi and they were on the stage.
Local BNP leaders were seen coming to the venue area with small processions in the morning and the large crowd spilled onto the surrounding roads.
People with banners and placards joined the rally from Natore, Bogura, Pabna, Sirajganj, Naogaon, Joypurhat and Chapainawabganj as well.
UNB’s Rajshahi correspondent found the venue full to the brim with the presence of BNP leaders and activists around 9:00am.
The leaders and activists, who reached the city in advance on Thursday, took position at Eidgah field, adjacent to the venue.
BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir reached Rajshahi city on Friday night.
Law enforcers have taken adequate measures to maintain the law and order situation in and around the city centering the BNP rally and check-posts have been set up at all entry points of the city.
Plainclothes police are also patrolling the whole area.
Additional deputy commissioner of Rajshahi Metropolitan Police, Rafiqul Alam, said, ‘Police are on alert so that no one can create any anarchy centering the rally and three-tier security measures have been taken to ensure a smooth rally.’
Seventeen check-posts have been installed at important points of the city and detective police are also performing their duties alongside police.
Besides, a number of CCTV cameras were installed in the venue area to ensure security and a cybercrime unit will observe the activities at the venue through the cameras.
Meanwhile, bus communication remained halted between Rajshahi and other parts of the country since Thursday morning.
BNP activists from the districts under the divisions were seen coming to the city by train, trucks, and other vehicles like human haulers, auto rickshaws, three-wheelers, motorbikes, and micro-buses from Wednesday.
Transport owners and workers enforced the strike in eight districts under the Rajshahi division for an indefinite period from Thursday, causing immense suffering to commuters.
Besides, the Rajshahi auto-rickshaw owners association also enforced an indefinite strike on Friday afternoon. BNP leaders alleged that the strikes were meant for obstructing mass waves toward their rally.
The rally in Rajshahi on Saturday will be the 9th by BNP at the divisional level as eight others were held in Chattogram, Mymensingh, Khulna, Rangpur, Barishal and Faridpur, Sylhet and Cumilla.
A similar strike was also enforced ahead of BNP’s divisional rallies in Sylhet, Faridpur, Barishal, Rangpur and Khulna, but thousands of party leaders, activists and supporters participated in the rallies overcoming the obstacles.
As part of the move to continue the pace of its ongoing movement, the BNP on September 27 announced a series of public rallies in 10 divisional cities. The party will conclude the divisional programmes by holding its last rally in Dhaka on December 10.
The organisers said the rallies were meant to denounce the price hike of daily essentials and fuels, the death of five party men in previous police action in Bhola, Narayanganj, Munshiganj, and Jashore, and to ensure the freedom of BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia.
BNP has long been demanding that the next general election be held under a caretaker government, not under any political government — a demand sharply rejected by the ruling Awami League as the constitution does not allow it to happen.