The fear of a prolonged imprisonment of BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia has made party leaders and activists worried.
“The government will try to keep Khaleda Zia in jail for a long time. It has become a matter of concern not only for Khaleda Zia, but also for the entire nation,” BNP vice-chairman Barkatullah Bulu told the daily sun on Tuesday.
BNP joint secretary general Syed Moazzem Hossain Alal said, “It’s a part of government’s conspiracy to keep Khaleda Zia in jail for long.Definitely, there is concern among party leaders and activists about it. But we, the party leaders, have to overcome this.”
According to sources, Khaleda’s immediate release from jail has become uncertain as getting the certified copy of the verdict in Zia Orphanage graft case, in which that sentenced her to five years’ imprisonment, is being delayed.
BNP’s legal affairs secretary Sanaullah Mia, also Khaleda Zia’s lawyer, on Tuesday told the daily sun, “We may get the certified copy of the verdict on Wednesday afternoon. After getting the copy of the verdict we may submit appeal and bail petitions to the High Court on Thursday.”
Several BNP insiders said that after the spread of ‘rumour’ that Khaleda has been shown arrested in two other cases, the party men became worried.
“The government is dilly-dallying to give the copy of the verdict because any delay in getting the verdict copy means more sufferings for Khaleda Zia in jail,” BNP standing committee member Moudud Ahmed said on Monday.
However, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal on Tuesday said Khaleda Zia landed in jail following the verdict in Zia Orphanage Trust corruption case but “she has not been shown arrested” in any other case.
“Confusion is being created over the issue. If there’s any production warrant and if the court thinks that it will summon her, it’s not our matter,” the minister told journalists at his ministry office.
Earlier on November 17, a Dhaka court issued an arrest warrant against Khaleda Zia for not appearing in a case filed over the celebration of her controversial birthday on August 15, the National Mourning Day. The next date for hearing in the case is February 25.
On October 12, another court in Dhaka issued a warrant for the arrest of Khaleda in a case filed over undermining of the country’s map and the national flag.
A Comilla court issued warrants for arrest of Khaleda in a case filed over the killing of eight passengers in a petrol bomb attack on a passenger bus in Chouddagram of the district on February 3, 2015.
Moreover, a Narail court issued a warrant for the arrest of Khaleda in a case filed over her remarks on the number of martyrs during the Liberation War in 1971.
Talking to the daily sun, some BNP central leaders expressed the fear that Khaleda’s stay in jail may be longer and she may not be released before the next parliamentary election as she is facing 34 cases and may be shown arrested in more cases.
According to the court sources, the trial proceedings of the Zia Charitable Trust graft case against Khaleda, Harris Chowdhury and two others are nearing completion.
In the circumstances, some BNP insiders said the party senior leaders have become worried and they think that if BNP chairperson is imprisoned for a long time then the party leaders and activists across the country will be demoralised and many of them can quit party activities ahead of the next national polls.
“If Khaleda Zia is to stay in jail for long then it will be difficult to continue demonstration programme demanding her release and, in the situation, maintaining party unity will also be difficult,” said some senior leaders.
The BNP leaders are now trying to ensure Khaleda’s immediate release and to reach its goals with regard to the 11th parliament elections, keeping party’s unity intact in absence of the party’s two topmost leaders - Khaleda Zia and her son Tarique Rahman- currently working as acting chairman of BNP, they added.