The government announced to release Khaleda on Tuesday
Defying Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir’s repeated requests not to crowd, BNP’s leaders and activists thronged to Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), in anticipation to receive their party chief Khaleda Zia who walked out of its prison cell vide an executive order.
Khaleda’s family members, lawyers and some senior BNP leaders, including its secretary-general Fakhrul, were present there on Wednesday, reports UNB.
Fakhrul and some other leaders repeatedly urged the party leaders and activists with a loudspeaker to move away from the BSMMU premises, but their calls went unheeded.
Law enforcers also failed to convince the BNP activists to leave the area considering Khaleda’s safety, said an official.
Though most of the BNP leaders and followers were seen wearing masks and other personal protective gears, some had no safety equipment, causing worry as health experts suggested avoidance of such gatherings to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Such a gathering posed a serious health risk to the patients at the hospital and the journalists present there since coronavirus has already spread in Bangladesh.
Journalists were seen expressing their deep concern over their safety as BNP leaders made it difficult for them to discharge their professional duties by taking position around them.
Even, Khaleda had to wait 10 minutes on the ground floor of the Cabin Block of the hospital to get into her vehicle due to the overcrowding.
She, however, left the hospital around 4:20 pm for her Gulshan residence in her vehicle escorted by the party leaders and activists.
Asked about the gathering, BNP Dhaka South City unit President Habibunnabi Khan Sohel said their party leaders and activists gathered there out of their affection for Khaleda.
“Party leaders and activists gathered in front of the hospital as they could not hold back their emotion to see their party chief after a long time.”
He said BNP leaders and activists were aware of the current coronavirus situation, but they risked their lives and health, driven by emotion.
“We had tried to convince them to leave the area, but failed. They defied our instructions, but we understand their feelings and love for our leader,” Sohel said.
After the government announced the release of Khaleda on Tuesday, Fakhrul urged BNP leaders and activists not to gather at BSMMU and hold back their emotion for the safety of Khaleda and other patients at the hospital amid the spread of coronavirus in the country.
“We call upon our leaders and activists to remain calm and exercise restraint and avoid any gathering. You please play a responsible role in this regard,” the BNP leader said.
He also asked the party rank and file not to throng near Khaleda’s Gulshan residence as it may cause harm to her.
Khaleda Zia’s family recently submitted an application to the government seeking an executive order to have the BNP chief released for treatment in London.
Her brother Shamim Eskandar, sister Selima Islam, and her (Selima’s) husband Dr Rafiqul Islam met Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and made an appeal for her release through an executive order.
Under the circumstances, the former prime minister’s sentences have been suspended as per section 401 (1) of Criminal Code of Procedure (CrPC), said Law Minister Annisul Huq on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said Khaleda’s personal doctors will provide her treatment at her residence.
Khaleda has been in jail since she was convicted in the Zia Orphanage Trust corruption case on February 8, 2018.
She was found guilty in another corruption case later the same year, though her party claims that both cases are politically motivated.
Khaleda has been receiving treatment at BSMMU since April 1 last year.