BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia was given a warm welcome by her party men on her return home from London yesterday after three months.
She reached Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport on an Emirates Airlines flight around 5:05pm. Security was stepped up around the airport before her arrival.
Thousands of leaders, activists and supporters of the BNP and its associate bodies thronged the airport with processions since 2:00pm to greet the party chief. Holding banners and festoons, they stood on the pavement of the Airport Road.
As the crowd got bigger by 4:00pm, many people were on the street, chanting slogans. This led to a severe traffic disruption on the busy Airport Road for hours, causing sufferings to commuters. Large tailbacks were stretching from in front of the airport intersection to Kakoli roundabout.
People travelling from Uttara to downtown Dhaka faced immense sufferings as they had to face delays for hours.
After coming out of the airport, Khaleda headed straight to her Gulshan home. But she too was caught in tailbacks as it took her around three hours to reach her residence, around eight kilometres off the airport.
On July 15, the former prime minister went to London for treatment and spending time with her family members. Her elder son Tarique Rahman, also the BNP senior vice-chairman, is staying there.
The BNP chief underwent a successful eye surgery at a London hospital on August 8. She also celebrated the Eid-ul-Azha with her family members in the British capital.
Khaleda is facing six arrest warrants in different cases. A Dhaka court has recently cancelled her bail and issued arrest warrants for her in the Zia Orphanage and the Zia Charitable Trust graft cases.
Two more warrants have been served on her in Dhaka in as many cases for allegedly “undermining” the country's map and the national flag and celebrating her “false birthday” on August 15 every year.
The other warrants have been issued against the BNP chief in Comilla in two cases filed over hartal violence in February 2015.
BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir and senior leaders Khandker Mosharraf Hossain, Moudud Ahmed, Jamiruddin Sircar, Mirza Abbas, Abdul Moyeen Khan, Nazrul Islam Khan and Amir Khosru Mahmud Chowdhury, among others, greeted Khaleda at the airport's VIP lounge.
Talking to reporters before Khaleda's arrival, BNP standing committee member Moudud Ahmed alleged that police obstructed party leaders from standing along the Airport Road.
“Our leaders and supporters have come here to welcome their party chief who is returning to her country. But you see how police are obstructing them. Police stopped public transport so that our leaders can't get here,” he said.
About the arrest warrants against Khaleda, he said those were “politically motivated”. “She is not afraid of arrest warrants. Our leader is respectful to law and will secure bail from courts.”
According to party sources, Khaleda will appear before a Dhaka court today to seek bail in the Zia Orphanage and the Zia Charitable Trust graft cases.