Khaleda Zia to party leaders and supporters
Khaleda Zia has instructed BNP leaders and supporters to carry on with the countrywide transport blockade, which she announced on Jan 5, report news agencies.“(She) has also called on the people to carry on with the movement which is happening at such a crucial time of the country,” senior party leader Rafiqul Islam Mia told activists who gathered outside the Gulshan office on Saturday evening.
“Begum Zia has requested everyone to pray for the departed soul of Arafat Rahman Coco,” he added.
The BNP chief’s youngest son, sentenced to six years in jail for laundering money, died of heart failure in Malaysia.
Khaleda’s Press Secretary Maruf Kamal Khan said that the 45-year-old was being taken to a hospital on Saturday afternoon Bangladesh time but he died on the way.
Khaleda was in her room on the first floor of her Gulshan office, reading a newspaper after the announcement of a nationwide 36-hour shutdown amidst the transport blockade, when she learnt of her son’s death.
It was around 2:30pm on Saturday when Nasrin Sayeed, wife of late brother Sayeed Eskander and Kaniz Fatema, spouse of Shamim Eskandar, gave her the news of her youngest son’s death.
Khaled is staying in her office since Jan 3 and she called the countrywide blockade and a series of shutdowns while both her sons, staying abroad, faced a raft of charges back home.
Officials at her office said Khaleda could not speak and wept silently after hearing of Coco’s death.
Coco was arrested along with his mother on Sept 3, 2007 at their cantonment home during the emergency rule. He went to Thailand for treatment on July 17 next year after the military-run caretaker government released him on parole.
He moved from Bangkok to Malaysia, Thailand’s ambassador to Bangladesh had told journalists in 2011.
Since then, Coco had been living in a rented house in Kuala Lumpur with his wife and two daughters.
On June 23, 2011, he was sentenced to six years in prison and fined Tk 190 million for laundering money to Singapore between 2004 and 2006, when Khaleda was the prime minister.
The BNP, however, had maintained that the case was politically motivated.
Khaleda had met Coco in Bangkok on her way to the US in June 2013. It was Coco’s last meeting with his mother.
The BNP chief’s Special Assistant Shamsur Rahman Shimul Biswas said that the decision of bringing Coco’s body to Bangladesh and burial will be made known later on.