Extraordinary security for opposition rally in Dhaka

Dhaka: Bangladesh today enforced a security lockdown on the capital Dhaka with hundreds of troops patrolling the streets ahead of an opposition rally calling for the government to step down and hold elections.

Activists of main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami ally gathered in huge number in front of the BNP`s central office at Naya Paltan area as police overnight granted the permission for the "mass rally" on some routine conditions.

"We are observing our programme peacefully and the leader and activists are started coming at the gathering," BNP Joint Secretary General Ruhul Kabir Rizvi told reporters at the scene where party chief Khaleda Zia was expected to arrive in next few hours.

BNP earlier announced to stage the rally mobilizing activists from different parts of the country but the plan was largely marred as the transport operators decided to stay off the road while most Dhaka hotels kept shut their doors for guests for "security reasons".

BNP`s acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir alleged at least 3,000 people had been detained nationwide over the last four days as the government tried to refrain them from joining the mass protest demanding restoration of interim caretaker government system for election oversight.

Most schools and shops were closed and roads in the capital appeared deserted as tensions mounted ahead of the rally which has been planned for months. "We have allowed the activists to gather in front of BNP office carrying banners and chanting slogans… no tension has been witnessed so far," a police spokesman said.