Khulna city turned into a city of processions since Saturday morning, as Bangladesh Nationalist Party is set to hold its scheduled divisional rally in the afternoon.
Leaders and activists of the party and BNP’s associate bodies were seen coming to the Sonali Bank premises rally venue in the city — in small processions — from adjacent areas since early morning.
Though vehicle movement, except trains, practically remained halted between Khulna and the rest of the country since Friday morning, BNP activists from 10 districts reached the venue overcoming obstacles.
As part of its divisional programme, BNP will hold the rally in protest against price hike of fuel and daily essentials and the killing of five BNP leaders and activists during the recent movement, and demanding the unconditional release of BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia.
The rally is scheduled to formally begin at 2:00pm where party’s senior leaders, including secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir will deliver speeches.
BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir and a number of senior leaders reached in the city and they visited the rally venue on Friday night.
BNP activists started gathering at the Sonali Bank premises from Friday night. They also placed mats and pillows on KD Ghosh Road and stayed overnight.
Some were seen having meals after placing mats on the road while some were seen talking in groups at city points.
Jisan Ahmed Ahnaf, an activist of Rampal College unit of Chhatra Dal, said, ‘500 leaders and activists from the college have reached the Zero Point by four pick-up vans and then they reached the venue on foot getting no vehicles.’
Besides, the movements of small boats at Rupsha Ghat and Jailkhana Ghat remained suspended from night, causing immense sufferings to people waiting on both sides of the ghat to cross the river.
Earlier, BNP followers took position in front of its party office on KD Ghosh Road in the city with small processions at 8:00pm on Friday.
From there, they went to the rally venue to set up the stage.
Many BNP workers were seen carrying puffed rice and water bottles.
BNP provided cooked and dried food and water to the party workers.
Talking to UNB, a number of BNP activists said they took position at the rally venue to avert possible obstruction and harassment by their ruling party counterparts and law enforcers on Saturday.
To make the rally a success, BNP men from different districts, including Jhenaidah, Chuadanga, Meherpur, Magura and Kushtia, came to Khulna in various ways including by trains, motorbikes, human hauler and using the water ways.
Khulna city unit BNP member secretary Shafiqul Alam Tuhin alleged that their party followers faced various obstructions on their way to Khulna.
He alleged that police started raiding the houses of their party leaders and activists since Thursday and arrested 47 of them.
Khulna District Bus-Minibus Owners’ Association suspended the transport service from Friday morning ahead of the BNP rally.
Besides, the Khulna unit of Bangladesh Launch Labour Association announced a 48-hour strike from the same day to press home their 10-point demand.
The party has already arranged two rallies in Chattogram and Mymensingh.
BNP leaders alleged that many BNP leaders and activists were attacked, arrested and implicated in ‘false’ cases in Chattogram and Mymensingh over holding the rally.