Vol. 4 Num 336 Tue. May 11, 2004  
Front Page

Crime to be dealt with iron hand
PM holds meeting with alliance leaders

Prime Minister Khaleda Zia at a meeting with the top leaders of the ruling 4-party alliance yesterday vowed to deal with crime with an iron hand.

She said stern actions would be taken against those involved in arson and damaging public properties in the name of demonstration.

"I will be tougher in curbing crimes and no-one irrespective of party affiliations will be spared. My government is firm to bring the law and order under control," she was quoted as telling the meeting.

Referring to the killing of Awami League lawmaker Ahsanullah Master, she said the killers will be given exemplary punishment.

"He was a very popular leader and the government has attached highest priority to nabbing the killers," she told the meeting.

"I have given instructions for proper investigation and the government would not hesitate to punish its own party men if found involved in the murder," the prime minister said.

Held at the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), the meeting briefly discussed the parliamentary by-polls in Dhaka-10 and Munshiganj-1 constituencies, the Bangladesh Development Forum meeting and the AL's April 30 deadline to topple the government.

BNP Secretary General and LGRD and Cooperatives Minister Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan, Health Minister Dr Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain, Information Minister M Shamsul Islam, Jamaat-e-Islami Ameer and Industries Minister Matiur Rahman Nizami, Social Welfare Minister Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid, Bangladesh Jatiya Party (BJP) Chairman Naziur Rahman Manzur and Secretary General Kazi Firoz Rashid, and chiefs of two factions of Islami Okiya Jote (IOJ) Azizul Haq and Fazlul Haq Amini attended the meeting.

Some of the leaders present in the meeting commented that a number of vital issues needing urgent attention such as downsizing the cabinet, price hike and checking corruption were not discussed in the meeting. Nor any specific steps were charted to improve order.

Outspoken IOJ leader Amini was silent at the meeting and even refused to raise the issue of banning of the Ahmadiyya sect despite provocation by an alliance leader.

Nizami highly praised the government for taking a hard line against the AL and suggested the prime minister that the government intensify such measures to crush the opposition's street agitation.

"The Awami League is now morally down after the failed April 30 deadline and it should not be wise for the government to allow it to take to the street," Mujahid reportedly told the meeting.

About the April 30 deadline, Khaleda said: "We already have a clear picture about the conspiracy centring the deadline and we know who were behind it."

"The government will soon take steps against the conspirators so that no-one in future dares to conspire against an elected government through unconstitutional means," she said without elaborating.

While discussing the by-polls, the leaders of the alliance components assured the prime minister that they would extend all-out support to the BNP candidates and would not file their own candidates, as the two seats originally belonged to the BNP.

An alliance leader asked Khaleda to field a strong candidate in Munshiganj-1, which belonged to Prof AQM Badrudozza Chowdhury.

In reply, she said although Badruddoza was elected several times from this constituency, his symbol was always the sheaf of paddy.

"Ask him to contest without the symbol and win," the prime minister reportedly said.

About criticism by donors at the just concluded BDF, she said small donors are more vocal than the major ones. "Those who provide us not more than Tk 5 crore sound as if they have given us Tk 100 crore."

Prime Minister and BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia holds a meeting with the top leaders of the ruling four-party alliance at her office yesterday. PHOTO: PID