Was BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia slow poisoned during her imprisonment? The party's Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir raised the question on Thursday while expressing concern over her "critical health condition".
"Was Khaleda Zia subjected to any slow poisoning in prison? We want to know this clearly. There is nothing impossible for them [the government]," he said at a protest rally organised to demand the former prime minister's treatment abroad.
At the programme organised by the Jubo Dal, the youth wing of the opposition party, Mirza Fakhrul threatened to wage a movement to oust the government by laying siege to Ganabhaban if the former prime minister is not released and sent abroad in the next 24 hours.
Referring to the government, he said, "those who robbed the votes of people to forcibly stay in power, those who filed 35 lakh false cases against BNP leaders and activists, shot democracy activists, crippled them and made 500 of our leaders disappear, nothing is impossible for them to do against Khaleda Zia."
Mirza Fakhrul alleged that Khaleda was imprisoned on false charges to keep her away from politics.
"She was detained for about two years in an abandoned building in Old Dhaka," he said.
Hinting at the prime minister, the BNP secretary general said that Khaleda Zia could not go abroad for treatment despite some ministers' approval because of one person.
"The country's journalists, doctors, lawyers, intellectuals have been calling for her treatment abroad. In addition, there was pressure from foreigners but she (Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina) is not listening to anyone simply out of revenge," he added.
Dr AZM Zahid Hossain, a personal physician of the former prime minister and member of the medical board formed for Khaleda Zia's treatment, told BBC Bangla that she was chronically ill with arthritis, diabetes, kidney and heart problems.
Now her liver problem has become complicated and that is why the medicine is not working that way in her other problems.
''Chronic liver disease has reached such a critical stage that sometimes she has some GI bleeding (bleeding in the stomach)," said Dr Zahid Hossain.
He said an operation on the liver has become an emergency but there are no modern facilities for such an operation in Bangladesh.
"These facilities are available in developed countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom. That is why the medical board has recommended her immediate treatment abroad," said the personal physician of the 76-year-old former prime minister.
To press home their demand, BNP leaders and activists across the country have been staging protests for the last few days and have clashed with law enforcers at different places across the country, including the capital Dhaka.
BNP lawmakers had earlier threatened to step down if their party leader was not allowed to go abroad.
On Wednesday, Mirza Fakhrul announced an eight-day programme beginning on Thursday.
Seeking the recovery of Khaleda Zia, the party will hold special prayers at all mosques across the country after Juma prayers.
In Dhaka, the party secretary general is due to attend the prayers at the National Baitul Mukarram Mosque after Juma prayers.
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 under certain conditions at the request of her family. Until now, the terms of her release have been extended four times.
The BNP chief was readmitted to Evercare Hospital on 13 November, six days after she had returned home from the hospital.
In April this year, she tested positive for Covid-19 and undertook treatment at home. Later, she was admitted to the same hospital. She tested negative for the deadly virus on 8 May.