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Opposition demands leader's return

Ultimatum vows to increase social unrest if Ilias Ali is not found safe

Opposition demands leader's return
Police cordon a BNP leader in front of party headquarters in Dhaka (photo: Uttom Stephan Rozario) reporter, Dhaka and Sylhet

April 25, 2012

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The main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has issued the government an ultimatum demanding the return of one of their top leaders by Saturday or face increased levels of social unrest. Ilias Ali, a BNP regional chief in northeastern Sylhet district, disappeared in Dhaka last week along with his driver. His abandoned car was found the next morning near his residence. The BNP has accused the Awami League-led government and law enforcement agencies of being behind the disappearance and has demanded his immediate release. The party and its allies will resort to tougher measures from Sunday if Ilias Ali is not returned before April 28, BNP chief, Begum Khaleda Zia, said yesterday. She was speaking at the end of a three-day general strike to protest Ali’s disappearance which crippled the country, sparked a series of clashes, and resulted in the deaths of at least four people. The BNP chief said her party will also hold rallies tomorrow across the country. “We know strikes hurt the country but we have no other option,” she added. The government denies it was behind the disappearance and says it has been trying its best to trace Ali. “We are doing everything to find him and we are progressing well. The BNP should refrain from creating anarchy across the country over this issue,” the minister for home affairs, Shamsul Haque, said yesterday. Rights activists have accused the security agencies for the disappearance of several dozen opposition members over the past couple of years, and say many of the abductions have been ordered by the government. Related Reports: Calls for caretaker government BNP rally raises tension in capital    
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