We welcome the government's decision to release Khaleda Zia from prison on humanitarian grounds. The government through an executive order released her for six months on conditions that she will stay at her home in the capital and not leave the country. The 74-year-old BNP chief landed in jail on February 8, 2018, after she was sentenced to five years in prison in the Zia Orphanage Trust corruption case. Later, the High Court raised her punishment to 10 years, of which she has served 25 months. Although her health conditions had deteriorated in prison, according to her family members, her party leaders could not get her released through legal fights. So, this is a positive development of the situation especially during the crisis that we are undergoing.
However, we observed with frustration that hundreds of BNP leaders and activists crowded the entrance of the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University to welcome her—they had been there for a long time and were chanting slogans, disregarding the health directives given by the government. Party activists also crowded her residence to meet with her, oblivious of the risk of contracting and spreading the deadly coronavirus. We think the BNP leaders and activists should have restrained themselves from taking part in such risky activities. Having said so, we hope that there will be no barrier now to get her treated for her ailments according to her family's plans.
We particularly commend the government for taking such a decision because the country has been passing through a big crisis due to the Covid-19 outbreak. We hope Khaleda Zia's release would create a positive atmosphere in the country and in our political arena during this gloomy time. We also hope that both the Awami League and the BNP will work together to overcome this national crisis.