Khaleda rapped over ISI fund allegation

PM accuses her of siding with war criminals

Awami League President Sheikh Hasina yesterday asked her arch rival Khaleda Zia to respond to the allegation that Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence paid five crore rupees for her campaign during the 1991 parliamentary elections.

Citing a recent report in the Dubai-based newspaper Khaleej Times, which made the allegation, she said, “To those who resorted to genocide and who had been defeated, you [Khaleda] sold the country [interest] by taking money from those defeated forces in 1971. The people of Bangladesh won’t forgive you. Why did you take money from the defeated forces? People want to know. One day you have to answer to the people.”

The prime minister was addressing a huge rally before the city’s Suhrawardy Udyan to commemorate the historic March 7. It was the first public meeting of Hasina in the capital after she became prime minister in 2009.

Leaders, workers and supporters of the Awami League, its different associated bodies, pro-ruling party organisations, freedom fighters, and different professionals’ organisations joined the rally. The ruling party men crowded the area from the Jatiya Press Club to Science Laboratory intersection and New Market to Kakrail.

This was the largest campaign to show off its public support by the ruling party since it assumed power in 2009. Lawmakers of Dhaka and its adjacent districts along with their supporters brought out a procession after the rally from Institution of Engineers’ Bangladesh. The procession ended at Bangabandhu Bhaban in Dhanmondi.

Hasina during her speech alleged that the leader of the opposition wanted to protect war criminals. “But I want to say that you [Khaleda] won’t be able to protect them…I want to say firmly that the trial of the war criminals will be held on this soil, Inshallah.”

She urged all to be aware of those trying to protect the war criminals and sought help from all for completing the trial of war criminals.

Awami League General Secretary Syed Ashraful Islam at the rally accused the opposition BNP chief Khaleda Zia of being a paid agent and broker of Inter Services Intelligence (ISI). “She has adoration for Pakistan and for this she took 5 crore rupee from the ISI ahead of the 1991 general elections. And for this reason she has been giving utmost importance to Pakistan’s interests, putting aside the interests of Bangladesh…”

Ashraf, also LGRD and Cooperatives minister, urged the opposition leader to place the BNP’s proposal on the process of holding the next parliamentary elections and give up its “chaotic anti-government programmes”.

“Join parliament, place your proposal and sit for discussion on the process of holding the next polls. The Awami League is ready to sit with you,” Ashraf made the call.

Thousands of Awami League men started gathering in front of Suhrawardi Udyan around noon with banners, festoons, placards and portraits of the father of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Within three hours the entire road from Shahbagh to Jatiya Press Club turned into a human sea. Bangabandhu’s historic March 7 speech was being played on loud speakers as well.

Band parties with drum beaters led processions of different units of the Awami League and its wing organisations to the rally. Some people were seen with painted faces and bodies. A symbolic gallows on a van was taken there where symbolic war criminals were showcased to be hanged. Musicians were singing patriotic songs on trucks decorated like stages. Some party men brought elephants and horses decorated with colourful banners on them that drew the attention of the gathering.

The prime minister arrived around 4:45pm amidst huge applause from the audience. Foolproof security measures were taken centring on the rally.

Hasina said the BNP chairperson had been staging a movement for the restoration of the caretaker government system. “Did she forget that the last caretaker government put her in jail and forced her two sons to flee the country?

“What is the guarantee that a caretaker government will bring her to power? If a caretaker government comes, it will bring back her [Khaleda] two sons from abroad and put them in jail.”

She said the last military-backed caretaker government had resorted to torture of professionals, politicians, businessmen, teachers, government officials and students.

She said her party took to the streets for the caretaker government after the BNP resorted to vote rigging during the BNP’s first term between 1991 and 1996. “But around 5,200 elections have been held under the present government and all the elections have been free and fair and nobody raised any questions about a single election,” she said.

She said if the BNP comes to power again, it would repeat its past misdeeds.

She said people would not accept the BNP’s programmes aimed at making the war criminals happy in a month that is so significant to the independence of the country.

Dhaka city Awami League General Secretary Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury Maya said his party would remain at all entrances to the capital and on all streets, lanes and by-lanes on March 12 to resist any anarchy created by the opposition party.

Awami League leaders Amir Hossain Amu, Tofail Ahmed, Suranjit Sengupta, Matia Chowdhury, Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim, Latif Siddiqui, Mahbubul Alam Hanif, MA Aziz and Quamrul Islam also spoke at the rally, chaired by party presidium member Syeda Sajeda Chowdhury.

Source: Daiy Star


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