Expressing concern over the recent arrest of religious leaders and alem-ulema in "false" cases, BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir yesterday demanded their immediate release.
"I earlier said the government launched a crackdown taking advantage of the lockdown over the last few days. It's arresting BNP leaders and activists, religious leaders and alem-ulema indiscriminately," he said.
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Speaking at a virtual press conference, the BNP leader said it is regrettable that the respected alem-ulema and religious leaders are being arrested and many "false" cases are being filed against them. "I call for the immediate release of the alem-ulema and withdrawal of all these cases."
He also urged the government to free the BNP leaders and activists arrested in many "false" cases.
Fakhrul accused the government of hurting the sentiment of devoted Muslims in Bangladesh by arresting the alem-ulema in the month of Ramadan. "Religious people in the country won't accept insulting and harassing the religious leaders in this way."
He said the BNP has no political link with Hefajat-e-Islam as it is completely a religious organisation, not a political party.
The BNP leader alleged that the government was behind the incidents that happened on March 26 over the protest of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Bangladesh. "The government itself created such a situation in a planned way so that those incidents happen."
He said the demonstration at Baitul Mukarram on the Independence Day was peaceful initially, but the situation turned volatile later due to the role of police and the attack by ruling party men.
Fakhrul said the violent incidents took place in Chattogram and Brahmanbaria later as a sequel to Baitul the Mukarram one.
He said the government has been trying to implicate BNP leaders and activists in the violent incidents to hide facts. "We want to clearly say that the BNP was never involved in those incidents. We only registered our protests through a demonstration programme when innocent people were killed for no reason."
Fakhrul also said the government has stigmatised the golden jubilee of independence by shedding blood of people of Bangladesh.
He said the Awami League has become a politically bankrupt party getting isolated from people. "Now they've to do politics depending on the state machinery and law enforcers."