BNP claims 300 men killed or disappeared in the last month
BNP chief and former prime minister Khaleda Zia has accused the Awami League Government of being involved in the killing or disappearance of more than 300 activists during the country's recently held general election.
The Bangladesh Nationalist Party boycotted the violence-plagued vote on January 5 that was won by the ruling Awami League - its great rivals which the BNP has alternated power with over the decades.
The government had no specific response to the accusation but said such BNP allegations had previously been found to be untrue.
Begum Khaleda Zia, a former prime minister, said her party had details of 242 supporters who were killed and 60 who disappeared between December 26 and January 27, as well as another 22,000 who were arrested.
"Around 300 political leaders and activists have been victims of extra-judicial killings. In Thakurgaon district, Awami League and their cadres have targeted our men and killed at least four of them," said Zia.
Such accusations are relatively common in the intense rivalry, and often violent confrontations, of Bangladesh's politics. It is difficult to verify either side's allegations, but it has sometimes turned out that the numbers involved are inflated.
Many BNP leaders are in jail or in hiding, and party chief Khaleda has said she was kept under virtual house arrest for more than two weeks until mid-January.
The vote was shunned by international observers as flawed and derided as a farce by the BNP.
"The January 5 polls were a farce. Not even 5 people voted for them (Awami League). The Awami League has actually lost the elections as people have rejected the credibility of the elections," Zia also said.
Hailing the boycott of the elections, Zia said that the people of the proved us right by not casting their vote.
"The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its allies believe that it was a brave and correct decision to boycott the polls and people have proved it by not voting," Zia added.
U.S.-based group Human Rights Watch urged the government last month to ensure proper control of the security forces and hold a credible investigation into any deaths.
Nearly 150 people have been killed in election-related violence in recent months, from both sides of the political spectrum.
The impasse between the country's two dominant parties undermines the poll's legitimacy and is fuelling worries of economic stagnation and further violence in the impoverished South Asian nation of 160 million.
(Posted on 06-02-2014)