The family of Bangladesh Nationalist Party chairperson and former prime minister Khaleda Zia submitted an application to the government seeking her release from jail for her advanced treatment abroad.
Khaleda’s younger brother Shamim Iskander submitted the application to the home ministry on Wednesday, a week after the High Court rejected Khaleda’s bail prayer for the second time.
This was the first time the family wrote to the government seeking Khaleda’s release as the prospect of ensuring her bail through legal battles seemed narrower than ever.
‘We received the letter of Kaleda Zia’s family seeking her release and forwarded it to the law ministry,’ a home ministry official told New Age preferring anonymity.
‘We will see the application and send it back to the home ministry by attaching our opinion. The home ministry will take the final decision,’ law minister Anisul Huq told New Age.
Asked about the application, BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said that the letter might have been sent by the family members but he had no knowledge of it.
‘I also do not know what was written in the application,’ he told reporters after placing wreaths at the party founder Ziaur Rahman’s grave together with the members of the newly-formed convening committee of Gazipur district unit.
On the question whether they would file any application seeking Khaleda’s release on bail if the government gives assurance of considering it, the BNP leader said that the matter completely rests on the decision taken by Khaleda and her family.
‘We do not have anything to say about it from our (party) end,’ he said.
Earlier on February 11, Shamim submitted a letter to the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University vice-chancellor seeking recommendation which he wanted sent to the government for taking Khaleda abroad for advanced treatment.
On Saturday, after visiting Khaleda at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, her sister Selima Islam expressed her fear whether they would be able to take her home alive from the hospital and urged the government for her unconditional release on humanitarian grounds.
She said that Khaleda’s health condition was very bad and she was suffering from breathing problem.
‘She has now a curved left hand and cannot stand on her own anymore. She cannot even eat properly and when she does eat, she throws up,’ she testified.
On February 14, ruling Awami League general secretary Obaidul Quader, while briefing the media at their party president Sheikh Hasina’s political office at Dhanmondi in Dhaka, said that BNP secretary general Fakhrul Islam Alamgir had phoned him but they did not get any written statement from the BNP regarding Khaleda Zia’s bail.
On that very day, Fakhrul, responding to a question whether he, during his telephone conversation with Obaidul, got any response, said that Khaleda’s health had sharply deteriorated and urged that none should do politics over her health and that she needed to be freed urgently on humanitarian grounds.
None of the leaders disclosed when the call was made and what they talked about during the call.
On February 27, the High Court rejected Khaleda’s petition seeking bail for the last time disregarding the plea for advanced treatment abroad.
The Appellate Division on December 12, 2019 upheld the High Court order rejecting her bail on July 31, 2019.
Khaleda has been in jail since February 8, 2018, the day she was convicted by a special court in Dhaka in a graft case which the BNP terms false and fabricated.
Ailing Khaleda was shifted to the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University hospital on April 1, 2019. (Source: New Age)