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Sunday, November 14, 2010
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I am evicted

Tearful Khaleda tells the press after she leaves cantonment house; BNP calls hartal for today; buses, cars burnt; army says opposition leader voluntarily vacated the house

Khaleda Zia, leader of the opposition in parliament, breaks down at her Gulshan office yesterday during a press briefing called after “she was evicted from her cantonment house”. Photo: Amran Hossain

Capping a long-drawn-out drama, BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia yesterday left her Dhaka cantonment residence and claimed the government had forced her out.

The news sent the activists of the main opposition party into an orgy of violence in the capital and elsewhere. They vandalised at least 100 vehicles and torched around a dozen.

Some 80 people were injured in clashes between BNP supporters and police across the country. The law enforcers arrested some 50 party workers.

The party enforces a countrywide dawn-to-dusk hartal today to protest the “eviction” of its chairperson.

It said the way the government made the former prime minister leave her house was “illegal and unprecedented”, as the matter was awaiting a hearing at the Supreme Court.

The army, however, maintained that Khaleda had voluntarily vacated the house. Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) said the BNP chief did it out of respect for the High Court order that asked the government to allow her a month's time to vacate the Shaheed Mainul Road house. The time expired on Friday night.

The ruling Awami League said the government or the party had no role to play in this regard.

Briefing journalists at her Gulshan office at 7:15pm, a weeping Khaleda said, “I was evicted from my house. I was dragged out and forced to get in the car.”

She added she was harassed, humiliated and ashamed by the way she was treated.

After the briefing, she moved into her brother Shamim Eskander's Gulshan residence. Some of her household items had already been shifted there.

Khaleda had been living in the cantonment house for 38 years since the days when her husband Ziaur Rahman was deputy chief of the army. After the assassination of president Zia in 1981, the then army chief HM Ershad had allotted her the 2.72-acre house at a token price.

In April last year, the Cantonment Board declared the allotment illegal and issued a notice asking her to leave the house. Khaleda's lawyers filed a petition challenging the legality of the notice.

On October 13, the High Court declared the notice legal and asked Khaleda to vacate the residence. It directed the government to give her 30 days' time for that.

The BNP chief's counsels went to the Supreme Court for permission to file an appeal against the HC ruling. The apex court is scheduled to hear the leave-to-appeal petition on November 29.

BNP sources said the army authorities on Friday night communicated a message to their chairperson, saying she should leave the house in the morning.

As the news spread, party leaders and workers started gathering at the Shaheed Jahangir Gate.

At around 6:00am, some army men sought to get in Khaleda's residence, but the guards refused to let them in. Shortly afterwards, a large contingent of Rab and policemen cordoned off the house.

At around 8:00am, the BNP sources continued, the law enforcers entered the house by knocking down a part of the front door. Between 10:00am and noon, they hauled 61 people out of the house.

While BNP claimed most of the 61 were staff of Khaleda Zia, the ISPR described them as “unauthorised occupants”.

On the house premises, the law enforcers rapped on the door of the building where Khaleda resides. As she did not respond, they forced their way inside and damaged a few rooms.

According to the party sources, the security men slapped a few of Khaleda's staff when they tried to stop them.

This prompted Khaleda to come out of her bedroom. As the officers requested her to accept the High Court verdict and vacate the house, she said she would first consult her lawyers.

This led to an argument, and at one stage, the law enforcers asked her to follow them.

Two of them ushered the BNP chief towards her car, which came out of the cantonment through Banani gate at 3:15pm. Amid police protection, she reached her Gulshan office at around 3:50pm, as the opposition activists burst into anti-government slogans.

The opposition supporters clashed with the law enforcers in many places across the country, including in Dhaka's Shaheed Jahangir Gate area, Mohakhali, and in front of the BNP Central Office at Naya Paltan.

Hearing the news that Khaleda would be “evicted” from the house, around 100 BNP leaders including Opposition Chief Whip Zainul Abdin Farroque gathered in front of Jahangir Gate, one of the main entrances to Dhaka cantonment, early in the morning. Police chased them away around noon.

The law enforcers did not allow any BNP leader or lawyer, including Supreme Court Bar Association President Khandaker Mahbub Hossain and former law minister Moudud Ahmed, inside the cantonment.

The BNP activists staged a sit-in on the road between Mohakhali and Farmgate for half an hour and vandalised a number of vehicles when police tried to disperse them.

They locked into a clash and police charged truncheons on them. A female activist was injured during this clash near Jahangir Gate.

The BNP men took cover in lanes and by lanes across the street from Shaheen College and Mohakhali Flyover and started vandalising vehicles. Halting traffic, they ransacked vehicles in phases for more than two hours. This continued until they heard that Khaleda had left the house.

At a press conference in the afternoon, BNP Secretary General Khandaker Delwar Hossain said Khaleda's “eviction” was absolutely unlawful, undemocratic and autocratic.

"She [Khaleda] was taken to an unknown location with force from her cantonment house before being taken to her Gulshan office," he said at the press conference at Khaleda's Gulshan office after having a meeting with the BNP chairperson.

Meanwhile, lawyers of Khaleda, including Moudud Ahmed, went to meet Chief Justice ABM Khairul Haque at his residence in the morning to discuss Khaleda's leave-to-appeal petition pending with the Supreme Court.

The ruling Awami League yesterday urged the opposition to withdraw the hartal, considering public sufferings ahead of Eid. It also thanked Khaleda for vacating the house showing respect to the High Court verdict.

AL acting general secretary Mahbubul Alam Hanif said, "The Cantonment Board issued a notice to Khaleda Zia to vacate the illegally-occupied house of the deputy chief of staff of the army. She [Khaleda] filed a writ petition against the notice with the High Court, but the court snubbed it. Here the government or the Awami League had no role to play."

In the morning, ISPR had said the opposition leader was preparing to leave the house willingly. Around noon it said she would leave the house showing respect to the HC order and the army authorities were trying to take over the house.

Before the clashes, ISPR held a press briefing at a building near the cantonment gate and informed journalists about developments.

"As she had been moving valuable goods of her house to other places for the last few days, it seemed she wants to help implement the court order," said ISPR Director Shahinul Islam at the briefing.

An ISPR press release issued yesterday evening said, "Khaleda Zia has helped implementing the court order by leaving the residence at 6 Shaheed Mainul Road in Dhaka Cantonment willingly at around 3:15pm today [Saturday] showing respect to the honourable High Court division order."

She took with her most of the materials she uses daily, it said adding that the authorities would take measures to send the remaining goods at a proper time according to her wish.

"The house was sealed off after Khaleda Zia left the house," said the ISPR release, adding that she desired to go to her brother's Baridhara house. Later, she went to her Gulshan office, it said.

The ISPR release said, "It is mentionable that the government donated a house in Gulshan. Besides, the 29 Mintoo Road house has been allotted to her as the leader of the opposition. She can live at any home she wishes."

Soon after Khaleda left the cantonment area, the ISPR director at another press briefing said, "Officials of the military estate office took over the house."

Opposition Chief Whip Zainul Abdin Farroque termed ISPR's statements false and said it was made to mislead people.

Kafrul Police Station last night refused to record any case over the “forced eviction” of Khaleda Zia from her cantonment residence, BNP chief's lawyer Masud Ahmed Talukder told The Daily Star.

Mahbub-Al Amin Deu, personal assistant of the BNP chairperson, along with Masud and another lawyer Sanaullah Mian, went to the police station to file the case.

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It is good for democracy. She should have left the Cantt residence soon as she joined politics; as political activity inside the cantonment premises is not healthy for the country.

: Golam Haider

Khaleda should have left the house voluntarily in dignity and self respect.

: N. Nabi


  • Dr. Iftikhar-ul-Awwal
    Sunday, November 14, 2010 12:17 AM GMT+06:00 (274 weeks ago)

    There was absolutely no justification or urgency whatsoever to flush out Khaleda Zia from her residence in a most embarrassing manner before the glare of the entire world. By so doing, we have belittled ourselves and the entire country among the comity of nations. We forgot that she was the PM of Bangladesh for more than ten years, and is now the Leader of the Opposition in the JS.

    The issue which led to this assault is still subjudice. We still do not know the final outcome of the case. Even if I agree at the lapse of her attorneys for non-filing of petition for an extension of her stay order, it would have been civil and courteous to allow her time till the end of judicial proceedings. Why is this haste? Explanation defies the watchful public, so also political observers, both at home and abroad. For me, I only see signs of political imbecileness, immaturity and bankruptcy among the decision makers who propounded such a shocking and insensible plan for expelling a very popular public figure like Khaleda in such a humiliating and degrading manner.

    I express my wholehearted condemnation at the crude and totally unacceptable handling of this delicate matter in such a brutish style. God save us all!

    Dr. Iftikhar-ul-Awwal

    Professor of History

    University of Dhaka

  • Dr Samiul Haque
    Sunday, November 14, 2010 12:17 AM GMT+06:00 (274 weeks ago)

    When will these two parties think about the country ? They are all busy in pulling each others legs.

    Politics has a new definition for Bangladesh it seems.

    This is extremely sad!

  • Bishnupur, Comilla
    Sunday, November 14, 2010 12:31 AM GMT+06:00 (274 weeks ago)

    This is called Democracy? I hate this kind of democracy?

  • Shajid
    Sunday, November 14, 2010 12:33 AM GMT+06:00 (274 weeks ago)

    A very bad omen.

  • Farhan
    Sunday, November 14, 2010 12:34 AM GMT+06:00 (274 weeks ago)

    As a citizen of this country, am really shocked to see this kind of inhumanity of the govt, and controlling over law and justice.

  • SNH
    Sunday, November 14, 2010 12:39 AM GMT+06:00 (274 weeks ago)

    I thought she's crying because our national problems remain unsolved.

  • rosy
    Sunday, November 14, 2010 12:41 AM GMT+06:00 (274 weeks ago)

    Though it is unfortunate on the part of the nation that the opposition leader was evicted from the house,the situation was made that way,Khaleda Zia being the leader was occupying the house and all her movement was to protect her property and her sons,she was not at all interested in the national affair including the BDR massacre where her response was mute . She was brought to power by the people and she failed completely.

  • Sheikh monirul Islam, Opee
    Sunday, November 14, 2010 12:47 AM GMT+06:00 (274 weeks ago)

    We are not only shocked but totally dismayed; for a moment I was thinking if we were living at all in a democratic country; this is utterly disgusting and we lost total support for the administration and especially doubting if at all our judiciary is being separated from executive. No way this makes our politics look respectful to the rest of the world. Main opposition political leader cannot possibly be treated that way and it is a shame.

  • Affan
    Sunday, November 14, 2010 12:49 AM GMT+06:00 (274 weeks ago)

    I see actions of both AL and BNP unjustified,this should not happen to 2 time pm

  • Reaz Hassan
    Sunday, November 14, 2010 12:51 AM GMT+06:00 (274 weeks ago)

    The govt ought to realize this and abandon hangovers from the past and march with the present.

  • Sheikh Monirul Islam, Opee
    Sunday, November 14, 2010 12:51 AM GMT+06:00 (274 weeks ago)

    We understand the sentiment behind, but this one is for political consumption

  • Hussain
    Sunday, November 14, 2010 12:52 AM GMT+06:00 (274 weeks ago)

    PM Hasina has now elevated this at the personal level

  • OpeeMonir
    Sunday, November 14, 2010 12:52 AM GMT+06:00 (274 weeks ago)

    It is the greatest political mileage BNP ever got during its tenure in the opposition politics this time and it made no mistake to capitalize on that. Though AL may drop few crocodile tears, but it may have to pay a huge price in the coming days of politics.

  • Anonymous,USA
    Sunday, November 14, 2010 12:54 AM GMT+06:00 (274 weeks ago)

    It will have a serious backlash, if not now in the future and that is not good for our beloved country.

  • Anonymous
    Sunday, November 14, 2010 01:08 AM GMT+06:00 (274 weeks ago)

    What a shame. The legal process should have been followed particularly when an appeal is pending at the Supreme Court.

  • Uzzal
    Sunday, November 14, 2010 01:16 AM GMT+06:00 (274 weeks ago)

    Its Very Crazy behavior of this Government. It make our nation going to dumpling Future. I am Very very sorry for this.

  • K.Chowdhury
    Sunday, November 14, 2010 01:17 AM GMT+06:00 (274 weeks ago)

    Khaleda Zia has another very big house in Gulshan which is a ideal place for her to stay as civilian and do politics. Cantonment is not good place for her and it is better she stays outside of cantonment. Good luck!

  • K. Gazi
    Sunday, November 14, 2010 01:21 AM GMT+06:00 (274 weeks ago)

    Ang Suu Kyi freed in Myanmar, and Khaleda Zia evicted from her home.

    How can an official Opposition Leader be so illegally disgraced from her state-provided residence?

  • NA
    Sunday, November 14, 2010 01:33 AM GMT+06:00 (274 weeks ago)

    Hard to know who to believe.

    Either way Khaleda Zia should not be staying at that house. There is no reason for a privileged person to be illegally staying at a house when she has her own private home and an official residence for the leader of the opposition. Especially in a country where so many people are homeless or live in overcrowded situations.

  • Monica
    Sunday, November 14, 2010 01:40 AM GMT+06:00 (274 weeks ago)

    she got an opportunity to show people that she is not greedy for a house that she got from the authority once. She could have shown the country she is not for wealth but for people.

  • Ferdous
    Sunday, November 14, 2010 01:58 AM GMT+06:00 (274 weeks ago)

    What AL government is doing is totally unacceptable.

  • m
    Sunday, November 14, 2010 02:15 AM GMT+06:00 (274 weeks ago)

    Well, if you really care for the country than fight for the country and rectify your self as a true Leader..people will vote for you. Ask for forgiveness for all the misdeeds your party made.

  • Habib
    Sunday, November 14, 2010 02:18 AM GMT+06:00 (274 weeks ago)

    You shouldn't let them evict you...the best way should be leave the house, obeying the rule of law...don't worry, you would be back with honour, if SC give verdict in had a change to establish the rule of law, but you missed..

  • tutul
    Sunday, November 14, 2010 02:29 AM GMT+06:00 (274 weeks ago)


  • A Choudhury
    Sunday, November 14, 2010 02:39 AM GMT+06:00 (274 weeks ago)

    She should have vacated the property after the judgment by the Hi Court.

  • Rahman
    Sunday, November 14, 2010 02:39 AM GMT+06:00 (274 weeks ago)

    Where exactly does government, politics, injustice come into this? Why don't they stop questioning decisions that are actually correct and concern themselves with the real problems facing this country?

    Both the political parties don't understand that common people of Bangladesh does not care about a politician's house.

  • Moznu Mia
    Sunday, November 14, 2010 02:43 AM GMT+06:00 (274 weeks ago)

    It is not right steps by the government to vacate Kaleda's house.

  • Moznu
    Sunday, November 14, 2010 02:48 AM GMT+06:00 (274 weeks ago)

    It is injustice

  • masum
    Sunday, November 14, 2010 04:32 PM GMT+06:00 (274 weeks ago)

    It is totally unfortunate and I am feeling very sorry. The present government has set some unfortunate precedents which will bring sufferings in future. This is not the last government in Bangladesh and this sort of vindication will presumably continue in future. The government has utterly failed to set its priority. We have the problems of gas, electricity, overseas employment, traffic jam and what not. The government in stead of concentrating on those is shifting its and people's attention to something else, which is not a good sign. I hope that a good sense will dawn on the government. Otherwise the same will happen to it in future.

  • Reza
    Sunday, November 14, 2010 05:24 PM GMT+06:00 (274 weeks ago)

    It is harmful for Bangladeshi politics........

  • Fariduddin Ahmed
    Sunday, November 14, 2010 05:38 PM GMT+06:00 (274 weeks ago)

    She was given a house in Gulshan which worth Tk 100 crores. She will also use Minto Road house. Her two sons have earned a huge fortune while in power. They can buy many houses of this category. How many houses a person require? This is a right decision for a person who loves only money and not the nation.

  • shabbir
    Sunday, November 14, 2010 05:39 PM GMT+06:00 (274 weeks ago)

    Unknowingly, AL has initiated a turning point in BNP's politics.

  • A.Chowdhury
    Sunday, November 14, 2010 05:08 PM GMT+06:00 (274 weeks ago)

    She should have left the cantonment earlier; soon after she took over BNP. How on earth can anyone reside in a highly classified state zone like cantonment and run a political party from there? Hope good sense will prevail.

  • Mirza Mehedi Hasan
    Sunday, November 14, 2010 04:33 PM GMT+06:00 (274 weeks ago)

    Madam, please cry for the poor people of your country. You have taken a lot from the country. Two other palaces-- one is at Gulshan (gifted by the government) another your official residence at Mintu road-- are well decorated and ready for you.

  • Parveen
    Sunday, November 14, 2010 03:53 PM GMT+06:00 (274 weeks ago)

    Two political parties bickering like this, a leading political figure crying in a press briefing about a house, making something like this a national issue and causing immense public suffering to people; what a disgrace for the country.





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