Israeli politician Mendi N Safadi yesterday said he met BNP leader Aslam Chowdhury in India but had no “secret meeting” with the Bangladeshi opposition leader.
“Everybody knows about the situation in Bangladesh and the condition of minorities there. We have talked about those issues at a public programme.
“Nothing could be funnier than the claims that we were conspiring to stage a military coup in Bangladesh or hatching a plot against the government,” Safadi told BBC Bangla Service over the phone from Israel.
It is illogical that some people would hatch a conspiracy against a government at a public programme and then post their photographs on Facebook, said Safadi, a leader of Israel's Likud Party and chief of International Diplomacy and Public Relations.
In the meantime, detained BNP Joint Secretary General Aslam, who sparked controversy after meeting Safadi in India early this month, and his associate Asaduzzaman Miah were placed on a seven-day remand in connection with a case for allegedly hatching a conspiracy with an Israeli national to topple the Bangladesh government.
The two were arrested by detectives in the capital's Khilkhet area on Sunday.
Known to be a trusted lieutenant of BNP Senior Vice Chairman Tarique Rahman, Chittagong-based businessman Aslam came under severe criticism after several photographs showing him with Safadi went viral on social media.
Several photographs posted on the Facebook page, “Mendi N Safadi Center -- for International Diplomacy and Public Relations”, show the two attending programmes in India earlier this month.
Talking to BBC Bangla Service yesterday, Safadi said he was invited by the youth front of India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party to attend a programme in New Delhi where he met Aslam.
He mentioned that Aslam was invited to the programme as a political leader of a neighbouring country.
The Israeli politician also said they had not known each other before, and they had a conversation just as guests.
Safadi said he couldn't believe that Aslam was arrested because the BNP leader had a conversation with him.
“Did he [Aslam] kill anybody? He just had a conversation with an Israeli during his visit to India.”
Safadi was aware that some media outlets in Bangladesh had labelled him as an agent of Mossad, the national intelligence agency of Israel.
The Israeli politician said he had nothing to say if anyone considered him a Mossad agent despite the fact that he leaves posts on Facebook about his activities every hour, deliver speeches at seminars and gives interviews to newspapers.
Meanwhile, the organisers of the programme in India said they were surprised that Safadi was termed a Mossad agent.
Indian Citizens Security Council, which organised the programme in New
Delhi, told BBC Bangla that it was not believable that Safadi visited India to hatch a plot to stage a coup in Bangladesh.
Bijoy Kumar, convener of the organisation, said, “We give opportunities to a cross-section of people to speak in our programmes. Mr Safadi was also invited to the programme for the same purpose. But there was no reason to think that he would get involved in a conspiracy against our friendly neighbouring country. He just delivered a 10-minute speech at our programme.”
BNP REFUTES ALLEGATION
Top BNP leaders yesterday refuted the government's allegation that the party is conspiring with Mossad to topple the government.
At a protest meeting at the capital's Institution of Engineers, Bangladesh, the BNP leaders said they want to “restore democracy” in the country through a people's movement, not through any plot.
ASLAM ON REMAND
A Dhaka court placed Aslam and his associate Asaduzzaman Miah on a seven-day remand.
Metropolitan Magistrate Sarafuzzaman Ansari passed the order after Inspector of the Detective Branch of police Golam Robbani, also investigation officer of the case, produced them before the court with a 10-day remand prayer for each.
In the prayer, Robbani said Aslam and Asaduzzaman had visited India from May 5 to 9 to hatch a conspiracy to overthrow the Bangladesh government. During their stay there, they had meetings with a Mossad agent, which was tantamount to sedition.