[Dhaka Correspondent] Two BNP factions Sunday demanded immediate withdrawal of the state of emergency to enable political parties to carry out relief activities in the cyclone-hit areas without hindrances. The factions also called on the government to release the party chairperson, Khaleda Zia, immediately and let her visit the affected areas and engage in relief operations.
Rizvi Ahmed, acting office secretary of the Khandaker Delwar Hossain-led faction, said, “The emergency rules are a stringent law that bars [political] leaders and activists from carrying on activities including relief operations. The law should be lifted at least from the affected regions so that relief activists and rescuers can engage in relief operations without hindrances.” Demanding immediate release of Khaleda Zia, he said, “She had been the prime minister for three terms and has excellent expertise in disaster management. During cyclone Katrina, the American media had several times cited the Bangladeshi experience of disaster management. And the credit for that expertise goes to Khaleda Zia.”
“If Khaleda Zia is allowed to stand by the people at this hour of calamity, they will be encouraged by her presence to fight the adversity.”
“I suggest the government relax the state of emergency in cyclone-ravaged areas to ensure smooth relief operations,” M Saifur Rahman, acting chairperson of the government-backed faction of the party, said at a briefing at his Dhaka residence Sunday.
Asked about their rival faction’s demand for Khaleda’s release to let her use her expertise in relief operations, Saifur said, “Her expertise depends on us… But if she is allowed to stand by the people, we will be happy as we are demanding her release for long.” He called on the government to offer loans to the affected people for rebuilding their homesteads and agriculture, send adequate relief supplies, including food and medicines, without delay. He said no development could be ensured keeping the people without shelters. “Damaged infrastructures and communications should be restored as quickly as possible.”
Saifur said the government should seek international assistance to tackle the aftermath of the disaster as the country has resource constraints. He stressed the need for long-term plans to face the calamities including afforestation along the coasts and take necessary measures to tackle climate change. Saifur claimed they were working for the affected people as per their abilities and the local units have already joined the relief drive.
Khaleda Zia has instructed all leaders and activist of all tiers of the party to engage all their efforts in relief operations, said Rizvi. The party has formed an 11-member central relief committee headed by party’s joint secretary general, Gayeshwar Roy. Dividing into groups, the team will supervise the party’s relief operations, he added.