Leaders and activists of the BNP have started a nationwide hunger strike demanding party Chairperson Khaleda Zia be allowed to go abroad for advanced medical treatment.
The programme began at 9:00am on Saturday on the ground floor of the party's central office in Naya Paltan and it is scheduled to continue until 4:00pm.
The 76-year-old former prime minister is currently admitted to Evercare Hospital in Dhaka. She is out of jail through a government executive order after being convicted in a corruption case.
Her family filed a petition to allow her to travel abroad for treatment, but the government said that she must return to jail first to apply for permission.
“Our beloved leader Begum Khaleda Zia is seriously ill. She is fighting for her life. This nationwide hunger strike has been staged to demand the implementation of the request made by her family,” said BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir.
The government has not taken any action so far despite our repeated requests, he said.
Many other BNP leaders, including Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain and Ruhul Kabir Rizvi, are also taking part in the protest.
The activists have occupied a part of the road from Fakirapool to Kakrail. All vehicles are now moving in a single lane.
Additional police personnel have been deployed in front of the BNP office.
Khaleda suffers from arthritis, diabetes and complications involving the kidneys and lungs. She had been hospitalised with COVID as well.
She was convicted in two graft cases and was taken to jail three years ago.
In April 2020, in light of the pandemic, the government granted a request from her family for a conditional temporary release from jail for “humanitarian reasons.”
Afterwards, she stayed at her Gulshan home under the care of her personal doctors.
Her brother Shami Eskander filed an application to the home ministry on November 11 requesting permission to allow Khaleda to travel abroad.
Law Minister Anisul Haque said that since Khaleda has been temporarily released on parole, there is no provision in the law to allow her to travel abroad now. If she goes back to jail and re-applies, the government may consider it.
However, BNP leaders are saying that the government can easily grant Khaleda the permission if it wants, but is refusing to do so.