Bangladesh's political landscape was shaken as Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, the main opposition leader, was apprehended by authorities on Sunday morning.
This arrest came in the wake of colossal protests against Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, just three months before scheduled elections, as confirmed by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).
In a statement, the BNP said, "Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir has been picked up by officers of the law enforcing agency."
Further adding to the gravity of the situation, Shamaruh Mirza, Alamgir's daughter residing in Australia reported that he has been detained by police officers.
However, Dhaka Metropolitan Police spokesperson Faruk Hossain claimed to be unaware of this arrest, raising questions regarding the circumstances surrounding Alamgir's detention.
Alamgir, at the age of 75, serves as the Secretary-General of the BNP and has been at the forefront of the party's leadership since BNP Chairwoman and former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia's imprisonment, while her son took refuge in Britain. Khaleda Zia herself has been under effective house arrest since her release from a 17-year prison sentence in 2020.
The protests on the preceding Saturday, organized by the BNP and the largest Islamist party, Jamaat-e-Islami, have been described as the most significant demonstrations of the year by on-site AFP journalists. These protests signify a pivotal moment in their campaign, with a general election scheduled to occur before the end of January.
Over 1,00,000 supporters from these two major opposition parties gathered, demanding Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's resignation to ensure a free and fair election conducted under a neutral government. Hasina, the daughter of the country's founding leader, has held power for 15 years and has presided over rapid economic growth. Nevertheless, her administration faces allegations of corruption, escalating inflation, and human rights abuses.
In response to the arrest and the protests, both the BNP and Jamaat-e-Islami have jointly called for a nationwide strike on Sunday, a move that disrupted normalcy in the country.
As a precautionary measure, security in the capital was ramped up significantly, with thousands of police officers and paramilitary Border Guard Bangladesh forces patrolling the streets, underscoring the heightened tension in the nation's political landscape.