New Delhi: A top leader of Bangladesh’s opposition BNP has threatened Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina with “a repeat of 1975”, referring to the massacre of almost her entire family in a military coup then.

In light of the conditions, nobody in the Awami League government or the country’s intelligence agencies are taking Abdul Kader Bhuiyan’s “repeat 1975” call lightly.

Addressing a rally last week in front of the National Press Club here, Abdul Kader Bhuiyan, Secretary of Volunteer Front, a wing of the BNP, and also the former President of its student wing Chhatradal, called for ‘a repeat of 1975’ against PM Sheikh Hasina’s family.

“Take up arms and restage another 1975,” Bhuiyan said. However, with no top Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) leader publicly offering any apology for Bhuiyan’s open and unambiguous call to violence, his statement signifies a tacit endorsement from the party leadership to go for an attempted violent overthrow of the Hasina government.

A senior intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that Bhuiyan’s call is “both a trial balloon and an indicator of the future”.

The threat by Bhuiyan bears ominous portents of possible violence in the rundown to the June 25 inauguration of the 6.15 km railroad bridge on Padma River, Bangladesh’s biggest infrastructure project so far and one constructed with the country’s own resources.

The ruling Awami League has planned a grand opening with a public rally of one million people on June 25.

Intelligence officials said they suspect plans for large-scale opposition violence ahead of the bridge inauguration to divert public attention and torpedo the plans for a rally, mentioning Bhuiyan’s threat.

BNP supremo and former PM Khaleda Zia had prophesied that the Padma Bridge project was Hasina’s “pipedream” and “would never be completed”. But now that the Padma bridge, that economists say may add 1.2 per cent to National GDP, is up and running, the BNP-led Islamist opposition may seek to play spoilsport in its inauguration.

Father of the nation Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and almost the entire rest of the family except her two daughters were killed in the 1975 military coup. Hasina and Rehana survived, as they were away in Europe.

Hasina returned to her motherland six years after the 1975 massacre to lead the Awami League and propel it to election victories in 1996 and 2009.

She has been in power ever since, presiding over Bangladesh’s Golden Decade of Development which has since the once poor country go past even giant neighbor India in per capita income, per capita GDP growth and many other economic growth and human development indicators.

Hasina has already survived more than 39 attempts on her life, including the heinous grenade attack in 2004 on an Awami League rally, in which around 32 leaders and activists have been killed.

BNP’s acting Chairperson Tarique Rahman has been convicted by a court for his involvement in planning the grenade attack.

The officials of the intelligence branch said that the BNP-led Islamist opposition has tried to rake up violent agitations on one issue after another since the Awami League swept the national polls in 2018 on the issue of statues of Sheikh Mujib being un-Islamic to opposing Indian PM Narendra Modi’s visit to Bangladesh.

“Now that the world is talking of Bangladesh’s phenomenal growth history, the opposition wants to divert attention from the Padma Bridge inauguration,” an official said.

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