- Resignation of the current Awami League government
- Forming a neutral and non-partisan caretaker government
- Forming a neutral Election Commission, annulling use of EVMs and party symbols in local polls
- Scrapping price hikes of electricity, fuel, fertiliser and water
- Making daily essentials prices affordable, keeping market free of syndicates
- Repealing acts like the Digital Security Act, Anti-Terrorism Act, Special Powers Act
- Withdrawal of cases against all opposition leaders and activists, including Khaleda Zia, journalists and religious scholars, and releasing them
- Forming a commission to address corruption in banking and energy sectors and share market
- Rescuing all victims of enforced disappearances in the last 15 years
- Ensuring steps for law enforcement agencies, judiciary and admin to work independently, without any govt interference
The simmering political situation of the last few days came to an end with the main opposition BNP's successful demonstration rally at Golapbagh playground on Saturday.
At the rally, the BNP demanded the resignation of the incumbent Awami League government and formation of a neutral caretaker government, a call it has made since the provision was scrapped by the ruling Awami League in 2011.
The move had resulted in the BNP boycotting the 2014 general elections. The party returned in 2018, but were dealt a heavy defeat, prompting renewed pressure for formation of a polls-time government.
Thousands of BNP activists and supporters thronged the much-discussed rally since the announcement of the approval of the venue.
At the rally, seven lawmakers of the party announced their resignations from parliament.
The way to the venue was not smooth, just as had been predicted.
BNP activists were attacked by ruling party men in different places, while they also had to face thorough searches by members of the police in different check posts.
Public transport was also halted en route to the capital.
Despite the odds heavily stacked against them, thousands joined Saturday's rally, with many even arriving from Friday afternoon.
Many activists spent the night in the Golapbagh field, where they performed prayers and had their means.
As the rally ground could barely accommodate 30,000 people, thousands others were seen outside the venue.
From Sayedabad terminal to Mughdha, Kamalpur, Dainik Bangla intersection, party activists were seen walking towards the venue, some chanting slogans demanding release of party leaders arrested ahead of the rally.
From 11am to 4:30pm, in the around five-hour programme, most of the BNP senior leaders and central committee members delivered their speech demanding the ruling government to step down.
Grassroots leaders and activists were also asked to go home peacefully, commending their success at holding the rally.
BNP leaders also said the Golapbagh field had gained historical status with the successful holding of the rally.
Repeal anti-people steps
Later in the afternoon, the BNP put forward a 10-point charter of demand, including the resignation of the current Awami League government.
The party also sought immediate steps to dissolve the Parliament, announced BNP Standing Committee Member Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain while speaking at the party's final divisional rally on Saturday.
The party also demanded that the use of EVMs and party symbols in local government elections be annulled.
They also demanded that the cases against all the opposition leaders and activists, including Khaleda Zia, journalists and religious scholars, be withdrawn.
The party also sought repeal of acts like Digital Security Act 2018, Anti-Terrorism Act 2009 and the Special Powers Act 1974.
All the anti-people decisions of the government, including price hikes of electricity, fuel, fertiliser and water should be scrapped, said Khandaker Mosharraf.
Other demands of the BNP include bringing prices of daily essentials under people's capacity and keeping the market free of syndicates; forming commission to identify corruption in banking, energy sectors and the share market; rescuing all the victims of enforced disappearances in the last 15 years while identifying and punishing those responsible for extrajudicial killings; bringing criminals responsible for attacking houses and places of worship belonging to the minorities under justice.
It also demanded steps for law enforcement agencies, judiciary and administration to work independently and without any interference from the government.
Mizanur Rahman Alam, joint secretary of Bhola's Char Fashion Union BNP had come to Dhaka on 5 December, four days ahead of the Dhaka divisional rally.
"At least 2,000 people came to Dhaka a few days earlier as we assumed launches would be suspended," he said.
Hafizur Rahman, who hails from Kishoreganj, told this newspaper that he had also arrived in the capital on 4 December.
"They [police] have filed eleven fictitious cases against me. I can't live peacefully in my hometown, so it's kind of a do or die situation for us. Either the government has to resign or we won't stop protesting for fair elections," Hafizur said.
BNP lawmakers announce resignation
Seven BNP lawmakers announced their resignation from the National Parliament as per the decision of the party's standing committee.
Bogura-6 MP Gulam Mohammad Siraj made the announcement while addressing the party's 10th divisional rally being held at the Golapbagh playground in Sayedabad.
The other MPs who have decided to resign are – Thakurgaon-3 Zahidur Rahman, Chapainawabganj-2 MP Aminul Islam, Brahmanbaria-2 MP Abdus Sattar Bhuiyan, reserved seat MP Barrister Rumeen Farhana, Bogura-4 MP Mosharof Hosen, and Chapainawabganj-3 MP Harunur Rashid.
BNP's International Affairs Secretary Rumeen Farhana said the MPs have already sent their resignation through email and will physically submit those to the speaker on Sunday.
In 1994, 147 of the 154 opposition parliamentary members of Awami League, Jamaat and Jatiya Party (JaPa) resigned in a bid to oust the then Khaleda Zia government.
'People are fighting back'
BNP Standing Committee member Gayeshwar Chandra Roy told Saturday's rally that the people of the country are now fighting to bring back democracy to Bangladesh.
"People of Bangladesh fought for independence, now they have started fighting again to bring back democracy," he said.
"The country has five years' worth of reserves. Sheikh Hasina and her relatives have them. Everything can be found with them," the BNP leader further said.
BNP lawmaker Selina Rahman said the people have turned around even after suffering torture to an extreme extent.
"No matter how hard they try to brush us off, we will join spontaneously in the movement that will be announced today," she said.
BNP Standing Committee Member Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury said the government had called a hartal to thwart the BNP rally.
"A hartal is being observed in Dhaka on Saturday. The government has called it. Awami League goons are picketing at the entrances of Dhaka with weapons. They have created terror all over Bangladesh," he said.
He also questioned whether the government has any authority over the country at the moment.
"The government that has to call a hartal, carry out picketing, are they really in power? I don't think there is a government in Bangladesh," said the BNP leader.
BNP announces next move
The BNP announced mass processions and demonstrations in major cities including the Dhaka metropolis to protest the killing and arrest of its men.
Besides, the party will bring out another mass procession across the major cities on 24 December to press home their 10-point demand, the BNP leader said while addressing the party's rally in the capital Golapbag.
Khandaker Mosharraf expressed his hope that the programmes will be observed simultaneously.
Meanwhile, at least eleven parties of the BNP-led 20-Party alliance have already agreed to join the 24 December move and expressed solidarity over the 10-points demand.
AL, BNP activists chase, counter-chase each other
Two motorcycles were burnt as Awami League and BNP activists chased and counter-chased each other in Dhaka's Mugda area, centring BNP's rally at the Golapbagh field today.
Locals and police confirmed two motorcycles, reportedly owned by Jubo Dal activists, were torched by ruling party activists.
Alongside, law enforcement agencies, activists of the Awami League, Jubo League and Chhatra League were also seen taking position on city streets to prevent what they said was "any sabotage activities" by BNP men.
BNP supporters were seen heading towards the rally venue on foot as public transport remained off the streets from this morning.