A senior BNP leader has claimed that the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), India’s primary foreign intelligence agency, was behind the assassination of the party founder and military strongman Ziaur Rahman.
“RAW opened a file to kill late president Ziaur Rahman,” BNP Senior Joint Secretary General Ruhul Kabir Rizvi told reporters at the Nayapaltan party headquarters Wednesday.
Referring to a report by Indian weekly magazine Sunday, he said the government of Morarji Desai had later the closed the file.
Desai served as prime minister of India from 1977 to 1979.
But, Rizvi claimed, the Congress government led by Indira Gandhi reopened the file and “Zia was killed within a few days at the Chittagong Circuit House on May 30, 1981.”
Indira Gandhi, who lent support towards Bangladesh during the 1971 Liberation War, was assassinated in 1984.
Rizvi’s remarks came apparently in response to the prime minister’s speech on March 11 when she alleged that the Awami League failed to win the 2001 election since the BNP had given India an undertaking to sell gas to them.
“The RAW agent here, he was always in Hawa Bhaban [BNP chairperson’s former political office] back then, as were the US embassy people,” Sheikh Hasina told a programme in Dhaka, adding: “So the anti-India rhetoric doesn’t really suit them.”
Although Hasina has spoken out about conspiracies surrounding the 2001 elections before, this was the first time she named the Indian intelligence agency.
The BNP leaders have demanded that she either withdraw the comment or apologise to the nation for making false statements.
Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir hit back at Hasina on March 13, mentioning a public perception that RAW operatives “used to stay in the official residence of the very prime minister.”
On Wednesday, Rizvi also said that the premier was trying to slander the BNP by claiming that RAW agents and US embassy officials had been pushing it for a gas extraction deal.
“Bangladeshi people know very well whose interest is served by RAW. So, people do not have any confusion that the prime minister’s remarks against RAW is part of a joke,” he said.