‘KHALEDA ZIA KNEW ABOUT CTG ARMS HAUL’
Staff Correspondent, bdnews24.com
Khaleda Zia as the Prime Minister had been aware of the smuggling of ten trucks of arms and ammunition into Bangladesh on April 2, 2004, an Awami League Presidium member has claimed.
“She (Khaleda) should also be tried when Babar has been,” Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim said during an unscheduled discussion in Parliament on Tuesday amid thumping approval from several Treasury Bench colleagues.
Lutfozzaman Babar was the State Minister for Home in BNP chief Khaleda Zia’s 2001-6 coalition government and is among the 14 sentenced to death and jailed for life in two cases over the arms haul.
A Chittagong court in its verdict last week had also questioned Khaleda’s ‘silence’ over the seizure of the arms meant for India’s separatist outfit ULFA.
Jamaat-e-Islami chief Matiur Rahman Nizami, who is on trial for suspected war crimes, is also among the convicts.
Nizami had served as Industries Minister in the Khaleda administration.
The BNP and its key ally Jamaat had termed the verdict ‘politically motivated’.
The BNP also alleged that efforts were now being made to implicate its chief and her son Tarique Rahman, also Senior Vice Chairman of the party.
Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury said on Tuesday, “Khaleda Zia was then the defence minister and in charge of the home ministry. She cannot avoid the responsibility (over this affair).”
“If a supplementary charge sheet was to be pressed, she would be the prime accused,” she suggested.
Opposition Jatiya Party MP Kazi Firoz Rashid also questioned Khaleda’s role as the then Prime Minister, but was also critical of ruling party leaders.
“Why was she not put in the dock? Why these cheap talks now after the verdict?”
In the judgment, the court said then chief of the Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI), Sadiq Hasan Rumi, was directly under the Prime Minister.
“The then Prime Minister was silent when Sadiq informed her of the arms haul. Without reacting, she said an investigation committee would be formed later, it stated,” Sheikh Selim continued. “It proves that she was involved in it.”
“These arms were smuggled into Bangladesh with the support of the then BNP-Jamaat government. Smuggling of such a big arms haul would not have been possible had the state not been involved in it.”
Top officials of Bangladesh’s intelligence agency had been found guilty of the gunrunning. Sheikh Selim said this had put Bangladesh’s security into question.
“If these arms had reached ULFA, we would have been maligned as a smuggling state. These arms would also have been used for political purpose.”
ULFA’s military wing chief Paresh Barua, now on the run, had also been given death sentence and jailed for life for his involvement in the arms trafficking.
FEBRUARY 04, 2014