Bangladesh: Zia Confined in Office, Protests Banned

Bangladesh: Zia Confined in Office, Protests BannedBangladesh: Zia Confined in Office, Protests Banned

Bangladesh police have banned all protests in the capital Dhaka from Sunday until further notice and locked main opposition leader Khaleda Zia in her office, ahead of the first anniversary of an election her party boycotted.

Zia had threatened to hold mass rallies in the capital to mark “Democracy Killing Day” on Monday marking a year since the polls that her Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its allies refused to join, alleging the ruling party would rig the vote.

“She has been confined in her office. Police have cordoned off the area and barricaded roads. She wanted to see a sick party colleague around midnight, but they did not let her out,” Zia’s aide SR Shimul Biswas told the AFP news agency.

According to reports, Zia has been confined to her Gulshan office since Saturday night with police, including women officers, deployed outside her office.

“We imposed the ban as rival rallies by the political parties raised fears of clashes,” Dhaka police spokesman Masudur Rahman said in a statement.

Buses and ferries heading to the capital were halted, virtually cutting the city from the rest of the country, operators said, amid fears that tens of thousands of opposition activists would march to Dhaka.

Zia was forced to spend the night at the party office, the aide said, despite attempting to leave by car. Police inspector Firoz Kabir denied that Zia was forcibly kept in the office.

Police also stormed the home of the party’s deputy leader, the private Somoy, and arrested senior leader and key party spokesman Rizvi Ahmed, who fell ill and was taken to a hospital by police escort.

Tension has been rising in the politically volatile South Asian nation since January 1st when Zia demanded fresh polls under a neutral caretaker government and threatened to bring the country to a halt if her demand is not met.