In an emotional reunion, BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia yesterday met all of her family members together after seven years.
It happened in London after she arrived at Heathrow Airport at 12:50pm Bangladesh time by an Emirates flight. Her elder son Tarique Rahman received the former premier with a garland, a UK-based Bangladeshi journalist told The Daily Star.
Tears rolled down her cheeks as Khaleda hugged Tarique at the airport's Terminal 3. Her younger son Arafat Rahman Koko died in Malaysia in January.
Several hundred BNP men welcomed Khaleda at the airport, journalist Mahbubur Rahman said in an e-mail to this newspaper.
However, she also had to witness protests outside by the UK Awami League men who chanted slogans against Khaleda and her party with banners, festoons and placards portraying images of the destructive activities during the three-month-long blockade enforced by the BNP-led 20-party alliance early this year.
From the airport's VIP lounge, Tarique drove her mother to Sofitel Hotel. Seating beside her son, Khaleda waved to the cheering BNP men.
BNP's UK chapter leaders including its President MA Malek and General Secretary Kaiser M Ahmed greeted Khaleda at the hotel and had a brief discussion with her.
After staying there for a few hours, she went to Tarique's residence in East London where his wife Zubaida Khan Rahman, daughter Zaima Rahman, and Koko's wife Syeda Sharmila Rahman and daughters Zafira Rahman and Zahiya Rahman were waiting for her.
Koko's family had flown in from Malaysia where they have been living since 2008.
The BNP chief left for London on Tuesday night for, the party said, eye treatment and celebrating the Eid-ul-Azha with her family.
According to party insiders, the BNP chairperson's visit is also politically significant as she would discuss crucial political issues with Tarique, also senior vice chairman of the party.
The UK chapter leaders of the party are maintaining secrecy on Khaleda's schedules during her two-week stay there, saying they were doing it for fear of protests by AL activists.
This is the first time she is going to celebrate the Eid outside the country with her full family. The last time they spent an Eid together was in 2007 and it happened in Dhaka.
Khaleda's adviser Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury, personal assistant Abdus Sattar and Tabith Awal, son of her adviser Abdul Awal Mintoo, accompanied her from Dhaka.
TARIQUE HAS UK ASYLUM
Tarique, who has been staying in London since 2008 along with his wife and daughter, got political asylum in the UK last year, BNP and diplomatic sources in Dhaka and London said.
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan too recently confirmed this to The Daily Star.
Indicted at home in a number of cases including the one over the August 21 grenade attack, Tarique had applied for the asylum a few years before his Bangladeshi passport expired in 2013. His wife and daughter too got the permission to live with him.
According to the UK asylum rules, Tarique and his family will be allowed to stay there initially for five years. "And if the situation in their home country has not improved after those five years, they can apply to stay permanently," says the rules.
Political asylum, as stated on the UK immigration website, is the protection granted by a nation to an individual who has fled from his native country as a refugee. The individuals seeking political asylum typically have suffered persecution or fear for their life as a result of political opinion.