Expressing concern over Khaleda Zia's “sudden illness” in prison, the BNP has demanded that the government immediately allow her personal physicians to examine her.
The party has also called for the release of its chairperson for her better treatment either at home or abroad.
BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir made the demands at a press conference at the party's Nayapaltan office in the capital yesterday.
"Our specific proposal is that her [Khaleda's] personal physicians should immediately be allowed to examine her. And she should be provided with treatment as per their recommendations," he said.
Asked whether Khaleda will be sent abroad for treatment if she is released, Fakhrul said, "We demand her unconditional release so that we can take necessary steps for her better treatment either at home or abroad.
"Since she took treatment outside the country previously, she would decide on it after her release," he said.
Hours later, Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader blasted Fakhrul for voicing “too much concern” over Khaleda's health, and said the government will do everything necessary.
"Khaleda Zia will be sent abroad if doctors think so. Everything will be done for her treatment," Quader, also road transport and bridges minister, told reporters at the party president's Dhanmondi office.
Khaleda will not be mistreated in prison. The government will take necessary steps if she falls sick in jail, he added.
Earlier at the press briefing, the BNP secretary general said Khaleda secured bail from the High Court through due legal process, but unfortunately the bail was not made effective.
All sorts of attempts are being made to keep her behind bars, he alleged.
Replying to a query whether the party wants Khaleda's release on parole, Fakhrul said, "We did not mention anything about her release on parole... We want her release... she deserves it. She has already got bail.”
Despite repeated attempts, this newspaper couldn't reach the central jail authorities for comment on Khaleda's health. Text messages were sent to the mobile phones of the jail superintendent, the jailer and the inspector general (prison), but they did not reply.
On February 8, a special court in Dhaka sentenced Khaleda to five years' rigorous imprisonment in the Zia Orphanage Trust corruption case.
The 73-year-old former prime minister was taken to the old central jail minutes after the verdict had been delivered.