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Reiterating her wish to stay in the country, detained BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia yesterday asked the government to send her two detained sons abroad for treatment without delay.
Speaking to reporters after hearing proceedings in Niko graft case, she said, “I have told you before that I'm not going anywhere. I have been in the country and will continue to be here. The condition of my sons however is very bad, and I ask the government to send them abroad without wasting time.”
Khaleda, also former prime minister, was produced before the Special Court-9 on the Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban premises at 10:10am amid tight security.
She said, “The government must create an atmosphere of trust to ensure that all political parties participate in the election. And for that, the state of emergency will have to be withdrawn.”
Criticising the military-backed administration's ongoing anti-crime drive, she said, “Leaders and workers of the political parties are being harassed in the name of curbing crimes. They cannot stay in their houses due to the drive.”
She demanded that the government stop the 'harassment' immediately and release all political leaders.
“We have no objection to arrests of criminals, but rounding up political activists will definitely hamper the process of creating an environment conducive to holding a free and fair election,” she observed.
About the ongoing dialogue between the military-backed government and political parties, Khaleda said, “First, let there be a congenial atmosphere for talks and only then will we say whether or not to join the dialogue.”
The BNP chief said the hike in fertiliser prices would affect the farmers badly. She also called for subsidies in agriculture and measures to ensure that essentials including rice and pulses are within buying capacity of the common people.
Referring to about 20 percent dearness allowance proposed in the budget for the government employees to cope with the price spiral, she asked what would happen to the other people facing similar problems.
“How many people are public servants? What about the rest? Take immediate steps for them as well,” she continued.
Queried about the government's concern over her health, she replied, “If they are that worried then why they are still detaining me?”
Earlier, Judge Khandaker Kamal Uz-zaman fixed June 18 for passing order on whether the trial should commence when there is already one going on in a case against Awami League (AL) President Sheikh Hasina on similar charges.
The defence said the trial should not begin before the end of proceedings of the Niko graft case against Hasina since both the cases involve the same story, seizure list and evidence.
They said the BNP-led four-party alliance government only followed what had been initiated during the tenure of the immediate past AL government.
The prosecution said the postponement or adjournment of the trial proceedings is an absurd idea. They said the plaintiff and accused, time and place of occurrence in the cases are separate and that is why there are no grounds for postponement or adjournment.
Later, talking to the reporters, BNP Secretary General Khandaker Delwar Hossain quoted Khaleda as saying that the law should be the same for all and the government would have to shoulder the responsibility if Tarique Rahman and Arafat Rahman Koko die for lack of proper treatment.
Eight other accused including former law minister Moudud Ahmed were also produced before the court yesterday.
On December 9 last year, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) filed the case with Tejgaon Police Station against Khaleda and 10 others on charges of abuse of power in awarding a gas exploration and extraction deal to Canadian company Niko.