Khaleda Zia
Bangladesh main opposition leader Khaleda Zia might face murder charges. Reuters

The Bangladeshi government has threatened to arrest the opposition leader on murder charges, after protests on the anniversary of last year's contested elections were marred by deadly incidents.

Khaleda Zia, who heads the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), could face trial because it's claimed she instigated protests that led to the torching of a vehicle, that left three people fighting for their lives.

The incident happened during clashes between opposition protesters, security forces and pro-government activists in the capital, Dhaka, in December, Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu said.

"The home ministry is mulling filing of a case against her regarding the matter," Inu told a press conference.

The minister compared the case to an incident that saw a four-year-old dying after falling into an abandoned tube well.

Inu said that if a murder case can be filed against the company responsible for the well, than Zia can be similarly held responsible for the vehicle-torching and the related life-threatening injuries allegedly caused by her supporters.

"If the contractor faces murder trial for the death of Jihad, who died after falling in a pipe then who is liable for the atrocities in the last three years. Isn't Khaleda Zia the one who instigated those?" he said, BDNews24 reported.

"So, Khaleda Zia will face murder charges over the three family members injured in the arson. She should prepare to face trial".

News about the possible trial comes as Zia has been confined in her party offices by police.

The former prime minister was blocked from leaving the premises, after she announced anti-government demonstration were to take place on 5 January.

The protests were to mark the anniversary of the election boycott that Zia led in 2013, when her rival Sheikh Hasina won the prime ministership amid rigging claims.

Despite a ban on demonstration and Zia's confinement, protesters took to the streets across the country.

Clashes with police erupted in the northwestern districts of Rajshahi and Chapainawabganj, leaving two dead and dozens injured, authorities said.

Separately, two unidentified gunmen on a motorbike opened fire on a group of anti-government activists in Natore district, 160km (100 miles) northwest of Dhaka, killing two.

Violence was also reported in the northeastern district of Chittagong.

On Monday, Zia's Dhaka office was still cordoned by police forces.

Claims by authorities that the restraining measure was put in place to protect Zia have been dismissed as a "joke" by senior BNP officials.

"The government lacks international legitimacy and it is trying to move towards Soviet-style, one-party rule," a special adviser to Tarique Rahman, the senior vice chairman of the BNP and son of Zia told IBTimes UK.

Zia led Bangladesh from 2001 to 2006. At the end of her mandate she failed to hand over power peacefully.

Chaos and violence ensued, triggering a bloodless military intervention that backed a caretaking government, which was in force until Hasina first came to power with a landslide election win in 2008.