Information Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud on Saturday said the BNP is hesitant and failing to make their own position clear on the issue of Khaleda Zia’s release.
Dr Hasan made the remark after inaugurating the annual sports competition of Agrani Bank at the Government Physical Education College ground in Mohammadpur.With speculation running rife of a possible initiative by Begum Zia’s family seeking her release on parole, the information minister was bound to tee off on the topic with journalists.
Hasan Mahmud, also one of several joint secretaries-general of the ruling Awami League, was indeed asked about his views on Begum Zia’s family appealing for her release on parole.
They reminded him that BNP is claiming to free her by waging a movement while they wanted to talk with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina during a telephone conversation with Roads & Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader, also recently retained as the AL secretary-general.
In his response, the minister said, “No application for parole has been made on behalf of Begum Khaleda Zia. You can see that her family is saying one thing while the party is saying something else.”
“While they call for movement, at the same time they requested our general secretary on the phone to release Begum Khaleda Zia. They haven’t actually made it clear what they really want,” he added.
Hasan Mahmud explained that the government can only consider the matter when Begum Khaleda Zia appeals for release on parole. “Besides that, the government has no jurisdiction over her release. BNP leaders talk about Begum Zia’s bail everyday and claim that the government is preventing it.”“Begum Zia is not a political prisoner and she has been punished for corruption. Bangladesh’s laws and its courts are independent. Therefore, she has to go through the court to secure bail. Everyone has to obey the law even if BNP doesn’t care about it,” he stated.
The joint general secretary of the ruling party clarified the issue of being released on parole by saying, “Parole is a plea for release after accepting one’s crime and punishment. However, a parole has not been filed on behalf of Begum Zia yet.”
According to Hasan Mahmud, Sheikh Hasina is above the politics of violence or vengeance like BNP. He mentioned how the grenade attack on August 21 to assassinate Sheikh Hasina was carried out during BNP’s regime in 2004 under the patronage of Prime Minister Begum Zia’s government and directed by her son Tarique Rahman.
“The government is working sincerely to provide the maximum healthcare to Begum Zia at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU),” she said with complete sincerity.
The minister gave the example of how Obaidul Quader was treated at the same institution when he was in a critical condition. “The doctors who came from abroad said the medical treatment provided by BSMMU was world-class and correct,” he said.
Mentioning that Begum Zia has been kept at BSMMU instead of prison to ensure her best treatment, Hasan Mahmud noted how the rules had been bent to allow Khaleda’s favoured maid to effectively be incarcerated with her, while a nurse is always present.
“Begum Zia’s health is regularly examined and specialist doctors conduct tests from time to time. So what BNP is saying about Begum Zia’s health is nothing but an attempt to spread confusion among the people,” the minister added.