DHAKA: Bangladesh authorities on Tuesday threatened to bring murder charges against besieged opposition leader Khaleda Zia and arrested her deputy over accusations that they incited a nationwide wave of deadly violence.
A day after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina accused Ms Zia of trying to trigger anarchy, a minister said the opposition leader should expect a murder charge over an arson attack which left three people fighting for their lives.
The threat, which comes after four activists from Ms Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party were killed in the mounting unrest on Monday, was made while the opposition leader remained confined to her offices in Dhaka, barred from leaving by police.
The three people injured in the alleged BNP attack in Dhaka last week were in an auto-rickshaw that was firebombed by protesters — a frequent tactic of BNP hardliners who are trying to topple the prime minister.
“She should prepare for a murder case,” Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu said in comments that would do little to ease tensions in the country, a year on from Ms Hasina’s controversial re-election.
Confined and padlocked in her office in an upmarket Dhaka district, Ms Zia on Monday called a nationwide non-stop transport blockade in an effort to topple the government and pave the way for inclusive polls.
As supporters took to the streets to clash with officers, police arrested BNP secretary general Fakhrul Islam Alamgir over a series of violent protests by supporters.
“He was arrested on charges of arson, bombings and vandalism,” said Shiblee Noman, assistant commissioner of Dhaka police.
Mr Alamgir, the party’s de facto number two, had been holed up in the national press club since Monday but was arrested as he tried to drive away from the building, witnesses said.
Minutes before his arrest, Mr Alamgir had denounced the government and renewed calls to enforce a nationwide transport blockade.
“This unelected government…has turned the country into a prison,” he said.