Historic Test sparks turmoil in Bangladesh

Updated: Tuesday, September 18, 2012, 17:49 [IST]
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Dhaka: The first cricket Test between Bangladesh and India has triggered fresh political controversy in the country and may plunge it into general strikes.Bangladesh's debut in the Test against India from November 10 to 14 has created a lot of enthusiasm in a country that became the 10th Test playing nation this year.

But the elation has been partly dampened by a political feud over a denial to allow the four-party opposition alliance to hold a ''grand rally'' at the Test venue, Dhaka's Paltan Maidan (outer stadium) owned by the government-controlled Sports Control Board.Board officials said they want the ground ''free from any disturbance or damage'' before the historic Test is over but the opposition disagrees.

''We are going to have a detailed discussion and take a decision this evening. We are likely to call a countrywide hartal (strike) if we are eventually denied the right to hold the rally on November 7 at the Paltan Maidan,'' said Ahmed Nazir, a central leader of main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), headed by former Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia.

November 7 marks the day when Khaleda's husband, former military ruler and president General Ziaur Rahman, took power through a mutiny in 1975.''The Board was acting at the instruction of the government or the ruling Awami League for not allowing us to use of the Paltan ground, the biggest public avenue in the capital,'' Nazir told Reuters on Saturday.

''This is part of a conspiracy...as the government is afraid of a massive opposition gathering in the city,'' he said. The alliance has staged similar rallies in several provincial cities.Government or Board officials were not immediately available for comment. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, a great cricket fan, said earlier the opposition, having failed to force her out despite years of trying, was now trying ''to destroy the economy and push the country into a political chaos''.

''They are even trying to tarnish the country's image as an emerging cricketing nation,'' she told a party rally on Friday. She said world cricket organisers had praised Dhaka as a perfect venue and lauded the enthusiasm of Bangladeshi people for the game.(c) Reuters Limited. Click here for Restrictions

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Story first published:  Saturday, November 4, 2000, 16:45 [IST]
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