The sudden news that Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) chairperson and former prime minister Khaleda Zia has fallen ill in jail has worried the party and it smells a rat in this development, Agencies report.
Party senior leaders said the actual state of Khaleda’s health is not clear. The party is in the dark and their apprehensions about the condition of Khaleda’s health have been exacerbated by rumours making rounds in the political arena.
Against this backdrop, the party has demanded that party chief Khaleda Zia should be freed on bail and sent abroad for her treatment.
Talking to newsmen, ruling Bangladesh Awami League (AL) general secretary and road transport and bridges minister Obaidul Quader said necessary steps will be taken for her better treatment and Khaleda will be sent abroad if required and recommended by doctors.
A rumour went round for the past couple of days that Khaleda is ailing in jail and her health condition was so bad that she could not be produced before a trial court on Wednesday. The next day BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul was denied a meeting with her in jail on account of her illness.
Next a rumour circulated that Khaleda might be sent abroad for treatment and BNP leaders said this rumour made them worried because the jail authorities had not issued any formal statement regarding the health of their leader.
Khaleda’s personal physicians sought an appointment to meet her in jail, but the jail authorities have not given them the permission.
Addressing a press conference at the party’s Naya Paltan headquarters on Friday, BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said, “We fear that there might be an effort to remove the opposition here the way the other autocratic regimes usually remove the opposition.”
When contacted, BNP standing committee member Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain who was present at the press conference, elaborated on the word ‘removal’ saying, “Khaleda Zia has been convicted in false case and is being denied bail and there is an effort to keep BNP out of the elections – all these things are, for all practical purposes, aimed at keeping Khaleda Zia and BNP away from politics.”
Jail officials said the authorities on Thursday sent a civil surgeon to the jail to check Khaleda’s health, but the surgeon did not recommend for any specialised physician for the BNP leader, saying she has no new ailments.
Khaleda’s regular physician in jail, Mahmudul Hasan, told BBC Bangla Friday night, “She [Khaleda] is doing well. Her blood pressure and sugar level is normal. Her knee pain is an old ailment.”
Secretary general of the pro-BNP physicians’ platform, Doctors’ Association of Bangladesh’s (DAB), AZM Zahid Hossain told Prothom Alo that on the one hand the authorities were saying Khaleda was ill and a statement has been placed before the court in this regard but, on the other hand, the jail physicians say she was not ill.
“This has created a smokescreen,” he said.