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BNP: Govt holding Khaleda in prison to kill her

  • Published at 09:12 pm September 16th, 2019
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BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir addresses a human chain near National Press Club on Monday, September 16, 2019 Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

Calls for nationwide uprising to restore democracy and the rule of law in the country

BNP Secretary General, Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, says the government is holding Khaleda Zia behind bars with the motive of killing her in jail.

He made the statement addressing a human chain organized by Jatiyatabadi Muktijoddha Projanmo Dal in front of the National Press Club on Monday.

Fakhrul said: "If Khaleda Zia is released from jail, she will unite the people, stage protest events, and a nationwide uprising to restore democracy and the rule of law in  the country. That is why, the current administration is so scared to release her and has kept her detained on false allegations."

The BNP spokesman demanded the party chief’s immediate release. “We[BNP] must wage protests in the streets. We have to reclaim our rights. No one will give it to us for free."

Three-time prime minister of Bangladesh, and primary opposition leader outside parliament, Khaleda Zia has been in the Old Dhaka Central Jail since February last year, serving a 17 year prison term following conviction in two corruption cases. 

On April 1 this year, Khaleda was admitted to Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University Hospital (BSMMU) when her health condition deteriorated while she was serving time in jail. 

BNP repeatedly demanded the government provide proper treatment for Zia in Dhaka. A five-member medical board was formed to examine her condition. 

Currently, the trial proceedings in 17 cases against Khaleda are being held at a makeshift court set up in the old jail.

Mirza Fakhrul said: “Although the corruption accusation against Khaleda Zia was about only Tk 2.33 crore, the prosecution claimed that she did not perform her responsibility to stop the corruption.”

“In so many corruption cases, accused persons have gotten a reprieve or postponement, but Khaleda Zia has been deprived of her rights to get bail,” Fakhrul said. 

On the recent corruption scandals involving exorbitantly high prices in public procurement, Fakhrul said: "It [corruption] damaged the very foundation of the country.  In courts, police stations, government projects and in universities: everywhere corruption has set in.”  

Jahangirnagar University corruption scandal

Addressing the program, Mirza Fakhrul demanded removal of Jahangirnagar University (JU) Vice Chancellor Farzana Islam, for reportedly bribing local Chattra League leaders in carrying out the university’s Tk1,445cr development project.

He said: “They made bribing a fair share. We know the name of the Vice-Chancellor in connection with the corruption. She gave away millions of public money in the form of handouts. What has been done against the VC?! She [JU VC] must be sacked.”

On October 23, 2017, the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) approved a Tk1,445cr development project for Jahangirnagar University. In the first phase of project implementation, the university administration took the initiative to build five residential halls at a cost of Tk400cr.

On May 1 this year, the project manager put forward a tender invitation, and on June 30, the VC inaugurated the construction work of the residential halls.

However, since the beginning, the project has been fraught with allegations of irregularities in the tender process, Chhatra League's intervention, an ill-planned master plan, and the needless cutting down of trees.

The VC, the Jahangirnagar Chhatra League, and teachers supporting the VC, have all been denying the allegations, and calling media reports "baseless."

Mirza Fakhrul also criticized Dhaka University VC Dr Md. Akhtaruzzaman for allowing a number of students to be admitted to the university without sitting for entrance examinations.