The BNP has voiced suspicion that the government had a secret plan to send the party Chairperson Khaleda Zia abroad under the guise of “better treatment.”
The BNP recently demanded that the party chief be sent abroad for treatment owing to her alleged ill health.
BNP’s demand was taken into consideration by Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader, which only served to strengthen the party’s suspicion.
Several senior BNP leaders commented on the matter to the correspondent following the party’s press conference in Dhaka on Friday.
The leaders also revealed that despite her illness, Khaleda Zia will herself decide whether she wants to leave for treatment or not.
BNP Standing Committee Member Barrister Jamiruddin Sircar on Friday said: “We will have no objections if physicians recommend that Khaleda Zia be taken abroad. However, only the chief’s opinion matters in this regard.”
Barrister Jamiruddin also believes that Khaleda Zia will not leave country unless she requires treatment.
“During the regimes of Moin- Fakhruddin and Ershad, attempts were made to send Khaleda Zia abroad, but their plan did not work. She cannot be sent away by force.”
An insider close to the BNP secretary general, on condition of anonymity, said: “We recently caught wind of an attempt by the government to send Khaleda Zia abroad.”
The insider claimed that several BNP leaders have been contacted with proposals to visit imprisoned Khaleda Zia in secret, but none of them responded.
On March 29, Mirza Fakhrul was scheduled to meet Khaleda Zia, but the visit was postponed.
Speaking to the reporters later, Fakhrul said: “ABM Abdus Sattar, the chairperson’s personal secretary told us that our visit has been postponed, because Khaleda Zia is having health issues.
“A medical team, led by the civil surgeon will perform a checkup on the BNP chief. We were not informed about the nature of her illness, or the identity of the physicians treating her or the healthcare she is currently getting.”
According to a source close to the BNP Chairperson’s office, the BNP was alerted about the issue on March 28.
“If Khaleda Zia is indeed ill, then the jail authority was able to reach some form of understanding with the BNP chief. Or the jail authority somehow convinced her to postpone the meeting,” said the insider.
Mirza Fakhrul again made plans to visit Khaleda Zia the next day (March 29), but was informed that the party chief remains ill.
A BNP leader, on condition of anonymity, said: “The party needed consent from Khaleda Zia on a number of matters. The meeting between Khaleda and Fakhrul was postponed to prevent any discussion.”
The BNP leader further said: “The BNP leaders will never do anything in secrecy, despite government proposals to do so.
“Khaleda Zia is in jail, and acting Chairman Tarique Rahman is abroad. Under these circumstances, attending any secret meeting will almost certainly lead the BNP into a trap. The standing committee members will remain united.”
Commenting on the matter, pro-BNP intellectual Dr Jafarullah Chowdhury said: “If Khaleda Zia leaves the country until the next general polls, the Awami League will certainly be happy. However, the ruling party’s dream will remain unfulfilled.”
“The government must allow Khaleda Zia to get bail, instead of sending her abroad for treatment. Her physical condition is not well, she should be released.”
Another pro-BNP intellectual Prof Emajuddin Ahmed said: “The government does not want Khaleda Zia’s involvement in politics, amid concerns that her popularity may cause the ruling party to crash.