Meetings between seven BNP lawmakers and Khaleda Zia over the last two days have brought to the fore the issue of whether the former prime minister would be released on bail or parole.
The BNP MPs yesterday urged Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to see their ailing chairperson for herself and take steps for her release on bail.
“The seven of us [MPs] call upon the leader of the House and honourable prime minister, ‘Please see Khaleda Zia for yourself, our former three-time PM. We are sure if you see her…you will feel compassion for her’,” said BNP lawmaker GM Siraj.
He was talking to journalists after he and three other BNP lawmakers met the BNP chief at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Medical University (BSMMU) hospital yesterday.
“Our leader [Khaleda] is a political prisoner and a political decision is necessary for her release. We urge the prime minister -- please take steps for the release of our leader on bail, showing your political farsightedness instead of taking bureaucratic advice,” he added.
Siraj said Khaleda could not eat or walk on her own and was being deprived of proper treatment.
Asked about why an issue of the court was depending on the PM’s humanitarian consideration, he said, “Is it possible without any political decision?”
Quoting Khaleda, BNP lawmaker Rumeen Farhana said bail is her (Khaleda’s) right and she deserves it as she did not commit any crime.
“Nothing was discussed regarding parole,” Rumeen said.
BNP lawmakers Mosharraf Hossain and Jahidur Rahman also went to the hospital to meet Khaleda
Meanwhile, Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader, who is also Awami League’s general secretary, yesterday said he informed Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina about Khaleda’s physical condition and bail.
Within the BNP, rumours have it that there have been behind-the-scenes negotiations with the government about Khaleda’s bail.
The BNP lawmakers met their party chief on Tuesday and Wednesday and said that her physical condition was bad and she needs immediate treatment.
Amid discussion on whether she would be released on bail or parole, her party sources said Khaleda told the lawmakers that she would not seek parole.
A few of the lawmakers suggested that she compromise and accept release on parole, but she rejected the proposal, said a senior leader of the party.
“I will not seek parole. I will live the way the Almighty wants,” a senior leader quoted her as saying.
One of the MPs said when they talked about parole yesterday, Khaleda said, “I did not commit any crime. So, why would there be a question of parole?”
One lawmaker asked her about going abroad for treatment to which she replied she did not say anything as such, a source said, adding that she also said she will decide where she will take treatment after getting bail.
The BNP chief landed in jail after being sentenced to five years’ imprisonment in the Zia Orphanage Trust corruption case on February 8 last year. Later, the High Court on October 30 enhanced her punishment to 10 years after dismissing her appeal.
Khaleda was admitted to the BSMMU on April 1 after she fell sick in jail.
Earlier on Tuesday, BNP Joint Secretary General Harunur Rashid, also a lawmaker, along with two other MPs, went to meet the BNP Chief.
Harun told journalists that she will go abroad for treatment if she gets bail.
MEET WITH QUADER
Harun yesterday met Obaidul Quader at the Secretariat and informed him about the health condition of Khaleda and her treatment, and requested the message be conveyed to the prime minister.
He said the minister told him that he would speak to the PM in this regard.
Quader later told journalists that he told the PM that Khaleda Zia wants to go abroad for better treatment if released on bail.
“I informed the prime minister. But whether she [Khaleda] will get bail is the jurisdiction of court. How will the government instruct the court to give her bail?” the AL leader said.
Asked whether there was any discussion about Khaleda’s treatment abroad, he said, “Lawmaker Harun spoke only about bail. I informed the prime minister and she said it is the issue of court.”
Quader said Harun also spoke to the prime minister about Khaleda’s treatment and bail.
“There is no enmity between the government and Khaleda Zia,” he told journalists in reply to a query at the Secretariat.