Vol. 5 Num 12 Tue. June 08, 2004  

Hasina blames govt for bus arson

Awami League (AL) President Sheikh Hasina yesterday blamed the government for the arson at a double-decker bus on Friday night that left ten people burnt to death, and said the ruling alliance men did it to justify enactment of a law to ban hartal.

"There is no doubt they (government) engineered the incident on the night before the hartal (called by the AL) just to find a pretext for banning hartal," alleged Hasina, also leader of the opposition in parliament.

The AL chief was addressing a discussion in observance of the historic Six-point Day, organised by her party and held at the Engineers' Institution in the capital.

On June 7 in 1966, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had put forward a six-point demand for provincial autonomy when this country was under the rule of Pakistani military dictator Ayub Khan.

Hasina said the ruling coalition blamed her party for the tragic incident on Friday just as it did in the cases of major bomb blasts and arms hauls in Bogra and Chittagong. "They (present rulers) do so to save the criminals they shelter and to divert people's attention from it," she added.

Referring to a senior police official's reported bid to bribe a state minister, the opposition leader said, "Either the minister takes bribe from policemen or the police official (later arrested) did not offer him bribe as claimed by him."

"The arrested police officer, who was supervising investigation into the killing of Ahsanullah Master MP, had found BNP leaders were involved in the incident. That is why such a drama was staged to hinder the probe," Hasina said.

Hasina said 'communal and fundamentalist groups' are making the country a 'haven' for them under the prime minister's patronage.

She alleged relatives of a state minister are linked to armed training of religious extremist groups in Chittagong.

The AL president called upon people to build up a mass upsurge to get rid of the 'oppressive' rule of BNP-Jamaat alliance.

Others who spoke included AL leaders Abdus Samad Azad, Zillur Rahman, Amir Hossain Amu, Abdur Razzak, Tofail Ahmed, Abdul Jalil, Suranjit Sengupta, Motia Chowdhury, Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim and Mohammad Hanif and intellectual Mostafa Nurul Islam.

Earlier in the day, Hasina along with other leaders and workers of the party placed wreaths at the portrait of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at Bangabandhu Smriti Museum.