Khaleda at ‘Firoza’ after 776 days | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 26, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 11:40 AM, March 26, 2020

Khaleda at ‘Firoza’ after 776 days

Deserted for the last 25 months, the house on Road no-79 in the capital's Gulshan-2, was decked up yesterday as its tenant, BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia, came back after spending 776 days in jail.

Khaleda's younger brother Shamim Iskandar took Khaleda in his car to the the two-storey house named "Firoza" around 5:20pm yesterday. His wife Kaniz Fatema was sitting next to the former prime minister in the car as it left Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, where Khaleda was receiving treatment.

Khaleda's sister and brother-in-law, Selima Islam and Rafiqul Islam, and other family members welcomed the BNP chief, who was behind bars on charge of corruption. Khaleda was released following an executive order.

Since Tuesday, when the law minister announced her release from jail, the house was cleaned and party leaders and activists started thronging in front of the house. They chanted slogans as their party chairperson came back home.

Security men of the house said Shamim Iskandar and his wife supervised the cleaning of the house.

One of Khaleda's security officials said all the rooms of the house were cleaned, including her bedroom, reading room and drawing room on the first floor, and the one on the ground floor.

On the entrance of the first floor, flower tubs were placed, just like they were when she left the house on February 8, 2018.

Family members are thinking of keeping her in quarantine and urging that she avoid public gatherings, didn't meet any neta, went to her room. Nurse and doctor for home treatment.

Khaleda's aide Fatema Begum, who was with Khaleda during her imprisonment days, also returned to the house.

The house was crowded with party leaders and activists on February 8, 2018, when BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia left to appear before court for the verdict over a corruption case.

That very day, she was sent to the old jail in Najimuddin Road and had been behind bars since then and the house remained vacant, except four security personnel looked after it by rotation.

Khaleda's younger son Arafat Rahman Koko's wife Sharmila Rahman Shithi, along with her two daughters, stayed in the house for around 12 days.

Gas connections and telephone lines of the house were disconnected, said a family member of Khaleda wishing not to be named.

Before landing in jail, a police team provided security for Khaleda but after her jailing, the police protection was withdrawn.

The 74-year-old former prime minister had been staying in the house since 2011, after she was ousted from her long-time home in Dhaka cantonment following a High Court verdict.

The court ruled it was "highly illegal" and "contrary to public interest" for the military chief to give away a cantonment house to Khaleda with the president's approval.

After being hosted by her younger brother Shamim Iskander, she started living in the house.

Built on one bigha of land, the two-storey house in Gulshan was decorated to her taste before she moved in.

Facing the Russian embassy, the house with a lush green lawn is also close to the Pakistan High Commission.

The house was "rented" from Tanveer Islam, younger son of retired major and former BNP state minister Quamrul Islam.

After Khaleda came back home yesterday, she called her son Tarique Rahman over Skype and video-chatted with him and his children as they cried together.

While her home was crowded with people, Khaleda did not meet or speak to any of her party leaders or activists and went straight to her bedroom on the first floor.

Her family members said they are thinking of keeping her in quarantine to keep her safe and away from public gatherings at the moment, adding that they are also arranging for nurses and doctors to take care of her at home.

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