Khaleda demands army deployment
BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia last night demanded army deployment for the December 30 municipality polls, saying it is essential for holding the election in a free and fair manner.
“I can tell you that the BNP will get 80 percent votes if a fair election is held. But a worthless and spineless person is there at the Election Commission and you cannot expect a proper election,” she said at a discussion at the Institution of Engineers, Bangladesh.
“Army deployment is a must for holding a truly fair and neutral municipal election. We can expect a fair election to some extent if the army is deployed.”
The former prime minister came up with the demand nine days before the elections to 235 municipalities. Jatiyatabadi Muktijoddha Dal organised the programme marking the 45th Victory Day.
Khaleda said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina would not agree on army deployment because she doesn't want army personnel to patrol the streets during the polls.
KHALEDA ON MARTYRS IN 1971
In the 50-minute speech -- her first public address in more than a year -- Khaleda raised questions about the number of Liberation War martyrs.
“There are controversies over how many were martyred in the Liberation War. There are also many books and documents on the controversies,” said Khaleda.
The official number of the 1971 Liberation War martyrs is 30 lakh.
In an instant reaction to Khaleda's comment, eminent war crimes researcher Shahriar Kabir said she just reiterated what the Pakistanis have been claiming about the number of martyrs in 1971.
“The stance of Pakistan, the Jamaat-e-Islami and the BNP is the same regarding the 1971 genocide and the ongoing war crimes trial.
“I was not surprised by her comment,” he told The Daily Star last night
“She simply reconfirmed her stance,” said Shahriar, also executive president of Ekattorer Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee that has been campaigning for war crimes trial for more than two decades.
MA Hasan, convener of the War Crimes Facts Finding Committee, told BBC Bangla Service that it was not possible to calculate the exact number of the dead and injured in such a big war.
“Since the number [of martyrs] was finalised considering all the aspects, controversy should not be created over the number,” he added.
In her speech, Khaleda alleged that no one can write true history now fearing harassment by the government.
“Those who are now writing the facts, including AK Khandker, are being subjected to harassment and pressurised to withdraw their books from the market. But they are refusing to give in, saying they have written the truth.”
She said her party wants the trial of “real razakars” who had tortured and killed people. “But the trial has to be fair, transparent and in line with international standards. The accused war criminals must be allowed to exercise the right of self-defence.
“Is Maulana Nurul Islam of Sarishabari [ex-state minister from Jamalpur] a freedom fighter? He is a razakar who was given the national flag to fly it in his vehicle. It is Hasina [who did that]. Then why do they point finger at us?”
The BNP chief alleged that there are razakars (war-time collaborators of Pakistan army) in Hasina's family but she turned a blind eye to this. “She [Hasina] is looking after war criminals in her own house and making them ministers.”
Referring to the killing of ultra-left leader and Sarbahara party chief Siraj Sikdar in the '70s after the Liberation War, Khaleda claimed it was the AL that introduced crossfire in the country by killing him for raising voice against the misdeeds of Rakkhi Bahini (a para military force).
KHALEDA ON BREACH OF CODE
The BNP chairperson came down heavily on the EC for “not taking steps” against the ruling party men for “violation” of the electoral code of conduct.
“Even the prime minister herself violated the code of conduct and a complaint was lodged with the Election Commission. But it [the commission] has remained mum on the matter.”
On the municipality election to be held in a partisan manner for the first time, Khaleda said the government must have an evil design behind it.
“They want to show people that sheaf of paddy [electoral symbol of BNP] has no popularity as people are with the ruling party … But they are yet to realise that the boat [electoral symbol of AL] is about to sink.”
She said people would cast ballots for the sheaf of paddy if they can vote freely.
Turning to the issue of the Padma bridge project, Khaleda said the bridge would remain a dream.
She, however, said that if voted to power, her party would materialise the dream of people by constructing two Padma bridges -- one at Mawa and another at Aricha.