BNP acting chairman Tarique Rahman currently resides in the United Kingdom (UK) under political asylum.
He, along with his wife Dr Zubaida Rahman and daughter Zaima Rahman, have gained permanent residency there.
Tarique continues to carry out diplomatic activities in support of his party while remaining in Britain.
This correspondent delved deeper into the process that allowed Tarique Rahman to secure his permanent residency in the UK.
Also Read- Shahriar: Tarique surrendered Bangladesh nationality
Indefinite leave to remain
Tarique Rahman, who is the eldest son of BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia, has been living in the Kingston area of London for the past decade.
Khaleda Zia was sentenced to jail in Zia Orphanage Trust graft case in February 8, 2018. She was taken to Old Dhaka Central Jail the very same day.
The BNP central leadership then reached a consensus to make Tarique Rahman the acting chairman of the party. Tarique, who was also sentenced to 10-year imprisonment in the same case, has been carrying out his duties as the acting BNP chairman since then.
A source has confirmed that Tarique Rahman has received indefinite leave to remain (ILR) from the British government, which allows him to stay in UK for an indefinite period of time.
The insider, on condition of anonymity, revealed that Tarique applied for political asylum in Britain after he visited the country for medical care in 2008.
Taking his physical condition and other issues under consideration, the United Kingdom Immigration Service gave Tarique permission to stay in Britain for two and a half years.
He later applied for extending his visa, which was granted by the British government.
After five years, Tarique Rahman was granted permanent residency in 2013, as per the country’s immigration law.
Also Read- Shahriar: Tarique has no travel document to come to Bangladesh
Britain’s immigration law on asylum
Principal Barrister of Kingdom Solicitors in London, Tareq Chowdhury, who practices immigration law, explained the process that allowed Tarique Rahman to gain permanent residency in the UK.
“I do not know what type of visa allowed Tarique Rahman to enter Britain, but under the existing laws of this country, the government can permit a person seeking political asylum to stay,” he said adding that a person can also get a visa on humanitarian grounds, even if his or her application for political asylum is not granted.
He continued: “If a person is granted asylum, he will initially get a visa for a five-year stay. Later, the person will get indefinite leave to remain (ILR) as per the immigration law, which is basically the same as permanent residency in Britain.
“If a person is allowed to stay on humanitarian grounds, he would get a six-year visa in two phases. After that period is over, the person will get ILR in the UK.
So, as per the British law, Tarique Rahman should get permanent residency or the ILR by now.”
The immigration lawyer pointed out that one year after getting the indefinite leave, a person becomes eligible for UK citizenship.
Commenting on the matter, one of BNP's Central International Affairs Secretary Humayun Kabir told the reporters: “As a responsible party official, I am confirming that Tarique Rahman is a legal resident of the UK.
“However, only Tarique and his lawyer know the details regarding how he managed to gain permanent residency.”
Also Read- Awami League urges Britain to send Tarique Rahman back
Efforts to bring Tarique back
The political arena of Bangladesh is currently abuzz with the issue of bringing Tarique Rahman back home. The State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam recently gave a statement addressing the matter.
UK unit of Awami League and its associate organizations, on numerous occasions, have sent written complaints against Tarique to different levels of the UK government.
Addressing the issue, General Secretary of UK Awami League Syed Sajidur Rahman Faruque said: “The people of Bangladesh believe that Tarique Rahman is the godfather of terrorists and money launderers.
“He is a convicted criminal on the run. As Britain values the rule of law, we are trying to bring Tarique back home. There are instances where Britain stripped a person of his or her citizenship, despite initially granting asylum in the UK.”
Acknowledging the Awami League’s efforts to bring Tarique back home, the BNP international affairs secretary said: “They [Awami League] have been trying to do this for the past ten years. Even the ruling party ministers are trying their best.”
According to sources, foreign nationals who are granted permission of ILR enjoy similar status as UK citizens.
There are questions as to how Bangladesh will manage to prove to Britain that the allegations brought against Tarique Rahman are authentic, so that he can be brought back home.
Also Read- Shahriar: Political asylum means denouncing your citizenship
Tarique diplomatic actions in the UK
Tarique Rahman, who is now serving as the acting chairman of the BNP, is engaging in diplomatic maneuvers, either by himself, or through his advisors.
He also managed to get visas from numerous countries, and visited Saudi Arabia and several European countries in the past years.
Recently, a Canadian court had termed the BNP as terrorist organization, while delivering verdict in a case filed over immigration of a former Chhatra Dal leader.
Tarique Rahman reacted by sending one of his advisors [who is a lawyer] to Canada.
The advisor submitted various documents at the Canadian High Court during a review of the case.
Due to Tarique’s initiatives, the Canadian High Court declined to term the BNP a terrorist organization.
Sources have confirmed that Tarique Rahman is currently busy carrying out various diplomatic maneuvers in the UK and other European countries.
This article was first published on banglatribune.com