Dhaka: As many as 154 opposition activists, who were detained during a raid on their headquarters Monday night, were sent to jail Tuesday in connection with two assault cases against them. The Chief Metropolitan Magistrate's Court in Dhaka passed the order sending the activists to jail after they were produced before it, Xinhua reported.
Police placed before the court a 17-day remand plea for the activists, and the court fixed March 20 for hearing the remand plea. The leaders and activists of former prime minister Khaleda Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) were charged with assaulting police and preventing them from discharging their duties in Dhaka during a rally Monday evening.
The defendants include many top opposition leaders like party chief whip Zainul Abdin Farroque, joint secretaries general Rizvi Ahmed and Amanullah Aman, and Shafiul Alam Prodhan, chief of the Jatiya Ganatantrik Party, an ally in the BNP-led 18-party alliance.
In protest against the detentions, lawyers of the BNP and its key ally Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami party staged demonstrations on the court premises on Tuesday. Earlier in the day, police charged the opposition activists with attacking law enforcers and exploding bombs during Monday's rally.
During the raid on the BNP headquarters, police arrested about 200 opposition leaders, including BNP acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, who was released Tuesday. Police raided the BNP office less than an hour after the party announced countrywide dawn-to-dusk hartal for Tuesday, claiming that blasts were aimed at foiling the opposition rally Monday.
The rally was called to protest at what the BNP said was government's corruption, misrule, oppression and "mass killings". On February 28, at least 76 people including several policemen and dozens of activists were killed and hundreds of others injured in riots that erupted after a tribunal awarded death sentence to Jamaat vice president Delwar Hosssain Sayeede for war crimes in 1971.
The BNP standing committee at an emergency meeting Monday night called for two more strike March 18 and 19, if it did not release the detained opposition leaders by Thursday. Bangladesh Home Minister MK Alamgir defended the police action saying, "they (police) have the right to take actions against miscreants". Asked whether the police raid was logical, he said that "law permits police to enter anywhere to arrest or resist miscreants".