Vol. 5 Num 1025 Fri. April 20, 2007  
Front Page

Hasina flies in UK amid govt bar on home return

Awami League (AL) President Sheikh Hasina yesterday reached London with a hope to return home on April 23.

She will take a British Airways (BA) flight to Dhaka from Heathrow on April 22. The airliner is scheduled to take off at 9:30pm Bangladesh time and land at 5:45am on April 23, said sources in the UK.

If the carrier refuses to fly her, the former prime minister will seek alternative arrangements, added the sources.

From a personal visit to the United States, she arrived in London at 3:30pm. Earlier in Washington, her son Sajeeb Wajed Joy and AL leaders and workers saw her off at Dulles International Airport at 7:55am Bangladesh time.

The government Wednesday slapped a ban on Hasina's coming home for now, saying her return might disrupt the country's law and order and put the national security and economy in grave peril.

In a press note, it said it has decided to take special cautionary steps regarding her return.

The military-backed administration blamed Hasina for the violent street agitation leading to declaration of the state of emergency.

Besides, it alleged that she has made inflammatory statements against it and the law enforcement agencies at several meetings and in national and international media.

The government fears that if allowed to enter, she might attempt to preach hatred among the public and destabilise the country.

Issued by the home ministry, the press note said the AL chief herself has been concerned about her security and pleaded for special security measures and that was one of the reasons for the government action.

The foreign, and civil aviation and tourism ministries and the inspector general of police have been asked to take necessary steps in line with the decision.

The law enforcement agencies and immigration officials at air and land ports have been alerted to that end while the airlines operating flights to the country have been asked not to carry her.

In reaction to the developments, Hasina told different international media that she will get back home on schedule.

Meanwhile at home, the arrest of Kazi Zafarullah came as a blow to many of his fellow presidium members, said a senior AL leader preferring not to be named.

"We have to tread very carefully though we are hopeful that good days are ahead for the party that usually polls the highest votes individually," the leader added.

Talking to The Daily Star, a number of other leaders said they believe the situation will change for the better shortly as the home ministry press note itself says the measures against the AL president are temporary. They expect the government not to prolong the way things are now for the sake of democracy and the people.

In the interim, the AL will closely monitor the activities of the government.

Awami League President Sheikh Hasina and her son Sajeeb Wajed Joy at Dulles Airport in Washington DC. Hasina left the United States for London yesterday morning Bangladesh time. Courtesy: MA Rahim