The BNP has planned to go all-out on its one-point movement to oust the government by October and make way for holding the upcoming national polls under a neutral caretaker government, but recent arrests and "intimidation" of its leaders and activists have posed a challenge to the party.
Sources at the BNP said 324 cases have been filed so far against 13,115 leaders and activists across the country over the party's programmes on 28-29 July. Of them, 1,521 have been arrested.
They also alleged that 1,200 BNP leaders and activists were attacked by the ruling Awami League activists and the police during the period.
"The government forces are killing, injuring and attacking activists at city, district and upazila levels across the country, including the capital. Almost every day, activists are detained by plainclothes men near the party's central office. The government is trying to prevent their downfall by instilling fear in the public psyche through continuing such detentions and tortures," BNP Senior Joint Secretary General Ruhul Kabir Rizvi told The Business Standard.
Following the detention of six Chhatra Dal leaders from the capital's Lalbagh on 19 August, men in plainclothes claiming to be from the Detective Branch (DB) of police picked up Chhatra Dal central Vice President Abul Hossain Chowdhury from in front of the New Life Hospital in the capital on 22 August, Rizvi alleged.
On the night of 19 August, Dhaka South city BNP acting member Tanvir Hasan Robin was allegedly detained by the detectives.
Police, however, said the Chhatra Dal group was directed from the BNP central to amass 20 arms before the announcement of the poll schedule and that they have managed to collect 11 illegal arms.
"They played a key role in stockpiling arms from Pabna and Teknaf. Detective surveillance has also been increased on the rest of the leaders. They will also be arrested anytime," Rifat Shamim, deputy commissioner of DB Gulshan zone, told the media.
Some information has been obtained from the six arrestees which will not be disclosed at this time to protect the privacy of the investigation, said the DB official.
BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam branded the arrest of the six Chhatra Dal activists as a ploy by the police to thwart the party's ongoing movement.
"The government is preparing the ground for a major crackdown centring the upcoming elections, and staged a drama of arresting six Chhatra Dal leaders with arms," he said at a press briefing on 20 August.
Fakhrul added that rising cases of the disappearance and arrest of the leaders and activists is an electoral strategy of the Awami League to clear the electoral field by removing the opposition from it.
One to two demonstrations every week until Oct
Sources at the BNP said that they will organise at least one to two field-level demonstrations every week until October as part of the party's plan to overthrow the government in the same month.
As part of the plan, the BNP's Dhaka North and South units will organise processions today, and on 26 August, the party will hold mass processions with black flags across the country. In addition, BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir on 21 August announced various programmes, including a rally and a discussion, for the party's 45th founding anniversary on 1 September.
The BNP, its affiliated organisations and all units of the party are also expected to hold huge showdowns to mark the day.
Party insiders said by the end of September, their ongoing movement will take its final shape, and all political parties are likely to come under one platform demanding a fair election.
According to BNP sources, the party is outlining its movement targeting the fall of the incumbent government in October. Senior BNP leaders believe that the Election Commission could announce the poll schedule anytime in October, leaving the party unprepared. Hence, the BNP does not want to drag on the ongoing movement till the announcement of the election schedule.