Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday announced her government will open a fresh inquiry into the 10-truck arms haul cases as the names of Hawa Bhaban and BNP chief Khaleda Zia have emerged during the probe and trial in the sensational cases.
“The trial has been completed. But an inquiry is required to identify those involved in the arms smuggling conspiracy. And we'll do it,” she told parliament after her party lawmakers demanded Khaleda's trial for arms smuggling.
The name of Hawa Bhaban came up in the depositions of witnesses, she mentioned. “This means that Khaleda Zia, her son Tarique Rahman and some BNP leaders were involved in it.”
Further inquiry is required to know the sources of the arms, money and who had brought the huge consignment of arms. An international inquiry into the arms haul is also under way, said the PM.
Unloading of such a huge cache of arms would not have been possible without patronisation by the government, she told the House.
Law enforcers had hauled the arms and ammo at the jetty of Chittagong Urea Fertiliser Limited in the wee hours of April 2, 2004.
Hawa Bhaban is the so-called alternative power house of the then BNP-led government.
The DGFI, added the PM, had informed then prime minister Khaleda Zia about the seizure of the arms, but the BNP chief was silent. “Her silence proves that she had given consent to the smuggling of arms,” complained the premier.
She said probes into the arms haul cases have revealed that intelligence agencies were involved in the smuggling. “If the intelligence agencies get involved in such an incident, then how will the state's security be ensured?” she questioned.
Citing the arms hauls in Chakaria of Cox's Bazar in 1996 and Bogra in 2004, Hasina said her government will probe every incidents of arms haul in the country.
In the past, Bangladesh's land was used to patronise separatist movements in a neighbouring country, she mentioned. “Khaleda Zia had labelled the separatist movement in seven Indian states as movement for independence,” added the PM.
Hasina accused the past BNP government of allowing arms smugglers to use Bangladesh as a smuggling corridor. “As an independent and sovereign country, why Bangladesh will be used as the corridor?” she questioned.
The government, she said, will never allow anybody to use country's land to carry out any activity which would hamper people's security.
Post and Telecommunications Minister Abdul Latif Siddiqui, AL lawmakers Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim, Jahangir Kabir Nanok, Abdul Mannan and JSD MP Mayeen Uddin Khan Badal demanded the government take legal action against Khaleda Zia and Tarique Rahman for their alleged involvement in arms smuggling.