BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia is in a "very critical" condition, the party's Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said yesterday and demanded that the former prime minister be sent abroad for better treatment.
To press home its demand, the opposition party has been staging nationwide demonstrations for the past few days and on Wednesday it planned new protest programmes.
Mirza Fakhrul made the demand at an emergency press conference held at the party's Naya Paltan head office to announce the new programmes demanding Khaleda Zia's release and advanced medical treatment abroad.
Meanwhile, the government has asked police across the country to remain vigilant so that no one can spread rumours and unrest centring Khaleda Zia's treatment.
Intelligence surveillance was also intensified from Tuesday midnight, according to multiple sources at the Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP).
The police officers, who are posted in Dhaka but are now outside for various reasons have been asked to join their respective workplaces.
However, no official statement has been issued from any level of the police on the matter.
Two senior DMP officials said amid apprehension that vested interests may spread rumours or false information about Khaleda Zia's illness on social media, surveillance has been increased.
The police are on high alert so that no one can spread confusion and create chaos, said the officials.
On Wednesday, BNP submitted memorandums to all the deputy commissioner offices across the country.
The memorandum was handed over to the Dhaka deputy commissioner at 11:30am by a BNP delegation headed by the party's Senior Joint Secretary General Ruhul Kabir Rizvi.
Asked about Khaleda Zia's physical condition, her personal physician Dr AZM Zahid Hossain, declined to make any comment and said the party secretary general had already briefed the media on that.
But sources at the Evercare Hospital said her condition has been stable and has not deteriorated since her hospitalisation on 13 November. Information about her deteriorating condition or "death" spread on social media or in various ways is not true.
At the press conference, Mirza Fakhrul said, "All the programmes depend on madam's health condition. These programme schedules may change."
"The government has pushed her towards death without any treatment in the last three years," the BNP leader alleged. "The government has imprisoned her to snatch the democratic rights of the countrymen."
Asked whether the protest programmes could create pressure on the government, the BNP secretary general said, "We do not want to wage any reckless movement."
He said there is no legal barrier to taking her abroad for advanced treatment if the government wishes.
Mirza Fakhrul announced that Jubo Dal will hold demonstrations across the country on 25 November, and BNP will arrange prayers on 26 November in religious institutions.
Swechchasebak Dal will stage protests on 28 November and BNP will hold rallies in all divisions on 30 November.
On 4 December, Mohila Dal will hold silent processions all over the country, Muktijoddha Dal will organise a nationwide human chain on 2 December, Krishak Dal will arrange rallies on 3 December and Chhatra Dal will hold rallies on 1 December all over the country.
Khaleda should be sent abroad immediately: Zafrullah Chowdhury
"Khaleda Zia is in a very critical condition. She may expire any moment now," said Gonoshasthaya Kendra Trustee Dr Zafrullah Chowdhury on Wednesday.
"Six doctors of the medical board told me the details. I read every detail in their files. She is bleeding from her mouth. She also has rectal bleeding. Blood pressure has dropped below 100. During my visit yesterday (Tuesday), I saw Khaleda Zia being given blood."
Zafrullah made the statement at a press conference at Gonoshasthaya Kendra in demand of Khaleda Zia's release and treatment abroad.
He said, "I saw every line in the file. I am not saying anything on any verbal updates. If possible, she should be flown abroad tonight. Otherwise, anything can happen."
2,582 journalists call for Khaleda's treatment abroad
More than 2,500 journalists of the country have called on the government to release the BNP chairperson for her medical treatment abroad.
In a joint statement on Wednesday, they said the former premier Khaleda Zia is in critical condition.
"Therefore, we urge the government to rise above politics and consider the humanitarian aspect and give her the opportunity to seek medical treatment abroad immediately", the journalists urged.
Khaleda Zia has made an outstanding contribution to the independence, sovereignty, multi-party system, democracy, independence of judiciary system, independence of press and development of Bangladesh, it further read.
BNP leaders and activists across the country have been staging protest rallies demanding that Khaleda Zia be allowed to go abroad for better treatment.
The BNP chief landed in jail in February 2018 in the Zia Orphanage Trust corruption case. Later, on 30 October that year, the High Court extended her punishment to 10 years after dismissing her appeal. She is still facing at least 36 ongoing cases.
Following the outbreak of Covid-19, the government on 25 March last year granted her temporary release on conditions at the request of her family. Till now, the term of her release has been extended four times.
The 76-year-old BNP chief was readmitted to Evercare Hospital on 13 November, six days after she had returned home from the hospital.
Khaleda's physicians said she has been suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, ophthalmological and dental complications.
In April this year, she tested positive for Covid-19 and took treatment at home. Later, she was admitted to the same hospital. She tested negative for the deadly virus on 8 May.
Her family and BNP have been vocal since then to allow Khaleda Zia to avail treatment outside the country.
On behalf of the family, Khaleda's younger brother, Shamim Iskander, submitted an application to the home ministry on 11 November urging the government to allow her to go abroad for treatment.
But the government says she cannot leave Bangladesh as per the conditions of the temporary release.