Dhaka: Security was beefed up on Sunday around besieged opposition leader Khaleda Zia's office as tens of thousands of devotees thronged the capital for the world's second largest annual Muslim gathering after Haj amid continued political violence that left 11 people dead.
Riot police units were deployed along with regular police forces, creating a human-barrier on both sides of the main entrance. Seven trucks loaded with sand and bricks blocked both ends of the streets leading to Zia's office at Gulshan area.
"Security was already there. Now it has been merely increased," bdnews.Com quoted Assistant Police Commissioner (Gulshan) Nurul Alam as saying.
Only the residents are allowed to criss-cross the street where police check-posts have been set up this morning.
Police said the security measures are heightened so that "no one can take any chance" as thousands of devotees are entering Dhaka after the Ijtema, defying a nationwide opposition blockade that entered the fifth day today.
The three-day Biswa Ijtema drew the highest number of people, including 5,000 foreigners from 50 countries, on the last day of the first phase of congregation today.
Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) earlier declined to ease its non-stop nationwide strike to facilitate the Ijtema despite its general image as a pro-Islamic party and appeals from organisers as well as the ruling Awami League of Sheikh Hasina.
Headed by former prime minister Zia, the BNP preferred to continue with massive street campaign which it launched coinciding with the first anniversary of the controversial January 5 elections which BNP had boycotted.
Zia, who has been confined to her office since January 3, took part in the akheri munajat from her office as the TV channels broadcast live the concluding prayer of the congregation, the ex-premier's press officials said.
BNP's student front Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal called a day-long hartal tomorrow for Dhaka and 13 other adjoining districts to protest the confinement of Zia.
Meanwhile, the headmaster of a government primary school in the northwestern Gaibandha succumbed to his wounds yesterday at a local hospital, raising the violence toll to 11 since January.