Two years of Khaleda Zia’s imprisonment
Amid growing frustration among the party followers for its failure to free her either through legal way or mounting political pressure, BNP is going to observe the second anniversary of the jailing of its chairperson Khaleda Zia with various programmes on Saturday.
Party senior leaders and Khaleda’s lawyers think there is slim chance of having Khaleda freed through the legal process unless there is a negotiation with the government or strong street agitations, the UNB reported.
According to party insiders, Khaleda Zia’s family members are taking steps for filing an appeal to the President to free her on humanitarian ground as they believe that BNP has no ability to wage any street movement.
They, however, could not yet convenience Khaleda to submit any appeal, the party sources said.
BNP grassroots leaders said their party could not yet come up with any effective programme to push for the party’s demand for Khaleda’s release.
They think the party policymakers should try to wage a strong movement or make an understanding with the government to release her from jail.
Political analysts suggested the party to reorganise its grassroots and take to the streets with well-planned action programmes to have Khaleda released from jail.
On February 8, 2018, Khaleda was sent to Old Dhaka Central Jail after a lower court sentenced her to five years imprisonment in the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case.
On October 30, the High Court doubled her five-year jail term when she challenged the lower court verdict.
On October 29, Khaleda was convicted in Zia Charitable Trust corruption case and sentenced to seven years' rigorous imprisonment by a special court.
The BNP chief is now facing around 36 cases, including Zia Orphanage Trust and Zia Charitable corruption ones.
What did BNP do to free Khaleda Zia?
On the first anniversary of Khaleda’s jailing, BNP senior leaders promised to wage a strong movement reorganising the party’s rank and file to force the government to free her alongside carrying out a legal battle, but the party confined itself to mainly indoor activities like discussion meetings, doa mahfils, human chain, and press conferences throughout the last year.
With their serious worry over Khaleda’s health condition, BNP senior leaders met Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan on March 5, 2019 and demanded her better medical treatment.
Later, she was shifted to Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) on April 1, and she has been staying there since then.
There was a speculation that BNP MPs were sworn in as part of a negotiation with the government over Khaleda’s release.
However, BNP MPs reportedly tried to free Khaleda on parole, and they met her at BSMMU on October 2, but Khaleda did not agree to their proposal.
The party leaders carried out the legal battle to have Khaleda freed, but the scope for having Khaleda freed through legal process has apparently ended as the Appellate Division on December 12 rejected the bail petition of the BNP chief in the Zia Charitable Trust corruption case.
On January 24 last, Khaleda Zia’s sister Selima Islam said they are planning to make a special appeal seeking her release as they are worried about her life.
Selima, however, did not make it clear whether they will make the appeal to the government or the apex court.
A BNP senior leader, wishing anonymity, said Khaleda’s family wants to make an appeal to the President for saving her life by allowing her to receive treatment aboard.
He said their chairperson’s relatives will discuss the issue with Khaleda during their next meeting. “The appeal will be made if Khaleda agrees to the proposal.”
BNP ‘planning to intensify movement to free Khaleda Zia’
BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said the government kept Khaleda Zia in jail for two years unfairly. “She’s not been even given bail thought it’s her legal and constitutional right. “We repeatedly went to the court, but it’s known to all what happened there.”
He said their party has been on a movement, and they will now intensify it to free her from jail.
“The country is now facing a serious crisis as there’s no democracy, rule of law, people’s rights”, the BNP leader said.
Fakhrul said it is a difficult task to ‘restore’ democracy and intensify the democratic movement. “So, we’ll free Khaleda Zia and then restore democracy by intensifying our movement.
BNP ‘needs good strategy, effective programmes’
Dr Tarek Shamsur Rahman, a professor of Jahangirnagar University’s International Relations department, said BNP has failed to work out any effective political action programme and work plan to reorganise the party and boost the morale of its grassroots leaders and activists to mount pressure on the government to free Khaleda from jail.
He said BNP leaders should now design an effective plan to stage a comeback in politics reorganising the party. “BNP should a well-designed political strategy to stage a comeback in politics with pro-people action programmes.”
Dr Tarek said BNP leaders also need to go to their grassroots leaders to take their opinions and organise the party and take preparations for remaining active in politics.
Gonoshasthya Kendra founder Dr Zafrullah Chowdhury, known as a BNP sympathiser, said BNP has miserably failed to push its demand for the release of Khaleda Zia with effective programmes as the party policymakers could not devised action programme independently.
He said BNP acting chairman Tarique Rahman should now stay away from politics enabling its standing committee to take the right decisions and strengthen the party’s movement for Khaleda’s release.
He said senior leaders must take to the streets with courage to encourage the party rank and file to follow them to have Khaleda Zia freed from jail.
BNP, JOF to observe Khaleda’s jailing anniv
BNP chalked out a two-day day programme, including a rally in the city on Saturday, demanding BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia’s release, marking her second anniversary of her imprisonment.
As part of the programmes, the party arranged doa mahfils in mosques after Jum’a prayers today seeking early recovery of Khaleda as she has been suffering from various critical ailments.
Besides, BNP will hold a rally in front of its Nayapaltan central office at 2pm on Saturday. The party’s all district units will also stage demonstrations on the same day.
Meanwhile, BNP publicity affairs secretary Shahidul Uddin Chowdhury Anee said Dhaka Metropolitan police gave them verbal permission to hold the rally in front of their office on Saturday afternoon.
Besides, BNP’s alliance Jatiya Oikyafront is scheduled to stage a protest rally at Dhaka Reporters’ Unity (DRU) protesting Khaleda’s jailing.
The programme is also meant for pushing their demand for the release of the BNP chairperson.
Oikyafront top leaders are expected to address the programme that will begin at 11am.