- Police say Naya Paltan gathering may paralyse Dhaka traffic
- BNP still firm about Naya Paltan, top party leaders say final decision soon
- Rizvi alleges police persecution, arrest of BNP men ahead of the rally
Police have given conditional approval to BNP to hold its 10 December rally at Suhrawardy Udyan, though the party applied for arranging the political programme in front of its office in Dhaka's Naya Paltan.
The Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) in the Suhrawardy Udyan approval letter on Tuesday said a political rally at Naya Paltan may trigger "traffic congestion and public suffering".
The DMP mentioned that police permission, however, does not mean venue-use approval. BNP will have to avail permission separately for the ground from appropriate authorities.
Of the 26 conditions by police, others include limiting activities within the venue, deploying adequate volunteers during the rally, installing closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras at the venue, installing metal detectors for checking the delegates and following Covid safety guidelines while holding the rally.
The BNP men were also instructed not to set up loudspeakers and projectors outside of Suhrawardy Udyan, not to gather on roads adjacent to the venue, not to broadcast any speech or display any content or caricature that may hurt religious sentiment and not to carry blunt objects like sticks and rods.
The DMP, in its list of conditions, also prohibited the BNP from delivering instigating speech or distributing such leaflets and marching towards the venue with processions.
The party leaders and activists must assemble at the venue two hours before the rally starts, said the DMP letter.
Shahiduddin Chowdhury Annie, member secretary of the BNP's media cell, told The Business Standard that they did not want Suhrawardy Udyan for the rally.
"As the DMP said they will allow us to hold the rally at Suhrawardy Udyan, our standing committee will hold a meeting in a day or two and take a decision in this regard," he said.
Annie further said the party is still determined to hold the rally at Naya Paltan.
AKM Hafiz Akter, additional commissioner (Crime and Operations) of the DMP, told The Business Standard that police permission even to the ruling party programmes on the ground applied the same conditions.
"There is no discrimination in this regard, as we consider only issues related to public security and law and order," he added.
The high official of DMP also said that they will tighten security measures and deploy additional forces ahead of the rally. He, however, did not disclose the exact number of policemen to be deployed for the rally.
When asked why the BNP have been offered Suhrawardi Udyan even though they did not apply for it, Hafiz Akter said carrying out such a rally at Naya Paltan, one of the city's key roads, may paralyse the traffic.
"That is why they have offered a confined venue with ample space," he added.
On Tuesday, Ruhul Kabir Rizvi, senior joint secretary general of the BNP, alleged police are harassing their leaders and activists ahead of the rally. But this will not stop BNP mobilising public support against the government.