Bangladesh opposition plans anti-government strike

Bangladesh`s opposition leader and BNP chief Khaleda Zia on Wednesday asked her supporters to observe a nationwide strike on June 27 to protest against the "misrule" of her arch-rival Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina`s government.

Last Updated: May 19, 2010, 23:27 PM IST

Dhaka: Bangladesh`s opposition leader and
BNP chief Khaleda Zia on Wednesday asked her supporters to observe a
nationwide strike on June 27 to protest against the "misrule"
of her arch-rival Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina`s government.

"I know the day-long `hartal` will expose the people
to some sufferings, but it will not be more than the agonies
you are in under the misrule of the incumbent government," Zia
told her thousands of supporters at the downtown Dhaka`s
Purana Paltan Maidan.
The general strike, first in nearly three-and-half-
years, was called by Zia in the first public rally of her
Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) since the landmark 2008
general elections that brought Hasina`s Awami League-led
alliance into power.

During her 2-hour-long address, Zia criticised the
government for its "failure" to run the country and exposing
the people to their "worst miseries".

She slammed what she called the "politicisation of
particularly the justice administration system", vandalism by
ruling party students activists at campuses and compromising
the country`s interests through unequal deals with India.

Zia, however, did not elaborate how the deals reached
during Hasina`s maiden New Delhi trip in January this year
compromised Bangladesh`s interests at the rally.

In the past, BNP had alleged that Hasina had reached a
"secret deal" with India while it feared an agreement allowing
the neighbour to use the country`s two seaports could affect
its sovereignty as well as economic interests.
Zia`s rightwing party was generally known for its
anti-India stance while Dhaka-New Delhi relation was said to
have witnessed its lowest ebb during her regime.

The opposition chief also asked her party leaders and
activists to stage mass sit-in near the Supreme Court complex
in central Dhaka on June 9 to protest "government`s
interference into the judicial system" and countrywide protest
rallies on June 17.

Earlier, security was beefed up in and around Paltan
Maidan area in the city as officials said some 1700 policemen
and elite anti-crime Rapid Action Battalion troops were
deployed at different strategic points at Paltan area, where
Hasina narrowly survived a grenade attack carried out by
militants allegedly backed by a section of BNP leaders in
2004.

PTI