No love lost between 'em
Khaleda Zia has told Sheikh Hasina it was the Awami League that carried out the August 21 grenade attack on its party chief, a minister said yesterday quoting the premier as telling her cabinet colleagues about Saturday's phone conversation.
On the other hand, BNP leaders yesterday quoted Khaleda as saying to Hasina, “We are not engaged in politics of murder. I don't like killings … rather you and your men are involved in killings.”
The prime minister yesterday shared some contents of the conversation with her cabinet colleagues at a weekly meeting.
“When I told her [Khaleda] about the August 21 grenade attack, which was aimed at killing me, she said you yourself carried out the attack,” said a minister, quoting Hasina.
Khaleda also told Hasina, “You killed many people after '71,” according to the minister, who was present at the meeting.
The Daily Star contacted BNP leaders to get their version.
One of them said when Hasina raised the issue of the August 21 attack, Khaleda said, “I wish you a long life. I also want you to be in politics for long.
“Can you [Hasina] remember? … If not, you can go through records that you had planned to hold the rally at Muktangan. But without informing anyone, you shifted the rally venue to in front of your office. Why did you do this?”
At one stage, Hasina asked Khaleda why she should celebrate her birthday on the National Mourning Day, when August 15 is not her real birthday, the BNP leader said.
In reply, the BNP chief said, “Many people were born on that day. Won't they celebrate their birthday? I will celebrate my birthday.”
AL Organising Secretary Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury, who was present at the Gono Bhaban during Saturday's conversation, quoted Hasina as saying, “You [Khaleda] visited our Dhanmondi-32 house and saw my younger brother Russell many times. Don't you remember the face of little Russell when you cut cake and celebrate your birthday?”
A BNP leader quoted Khaleda as telling Hasina, “We should look ahead and take the country forward.”
He said Hasina accused Khaleda of harbouring politics of killings in the name of anti-government movement.
In reply, Khaleda said, “It's not me; rather it was you and your party that had been involved in killings. Taking Jamaat on its side, your party observed shutdowns for a total of 173 days. You paralysed the whole country and the sea port [in Chittagong]. Your brother [Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim] confessed that people were burnt alive on a bus set alight with gun powder [on a hartal day] on your instructions.”
On Hasina's doubts whether the opposition leader's red phone was really dead, Khaleda said, “The phone line has been disconnected for the last three years. We know you are very powerful, but not powerful enough to make a dead phone ring,” according to the BNP leader.
Hasina said she tried to reach Khaleda over the red phone for about half an hour. “I have nothing to say if you [Khaleda] don't speak the truth. I called you several times in the afternoon. Your phone rang. How could it be dead? I don't know whether it was dead or kept dead? I will have it checked," an AL leader quoted Hasina as telling Khaleda.
(The report was prepared before the transcript of the phone conversation was available.)