Dhaka: Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today accused her archrival and BNP chief Khaleda Zia of resorting to "genocide" equating the 28 deaths during the recent deadly opposition-enforced strikes and blockades to mass murder.
"The way people are being killed in arson amounts to genocide," she said after visiting a number of violence victims currently being treated at Dhaka Medical Hospital.
Hasina blasted the former prime minister for "playing with lives of the ordinary people". "The opposition leader (Zia) stays in air-conditioned room and orders to kill people. I would not spare them," the premier said vowing to take stern action against the people behind the arson attacks.
"We will take tough actions. We will do whatever required to expose them to justice," the premier said. Her comments came as incidents of uprooting railway tracks and torching vehicles by opposition activists were reported today from across the country as the back-to-back 72-hour blockade entered its second day.
The BNP-led 18-party alliance has rejected the interim setup led by Hasina and demanded the installation of a "non-party" government to conduct the elections.
The Awami League rejected the demand, describing it as "unconstitutional", while Hasina has asked the opposition to join the multi-party caretaker set-up. She even offered the home ministry to the BNP.
Police has already filed cases against 17 Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) activists on Friday including senior leaders like Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir and Ruhul Kabir Rizvi, on charges of instigating Thursday`s arson attack on a bus that left two dead and 17 injured.
A Dhaka court sent Rizvi to jail yesterday, prompting Zia to issue a statement demanding immediate withdrawal of the cases.
Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmed said the poll panel was forced to announce the schedule to comply with a constitutional obligation to hold the polls by January 24, 2014. He said the panel had waited for days for the two main parties to settle their dispute over the polls.
Hasina has alleged the BNP was trying to boycott the polls as it sensed it would be defeated.