Hasina arrested, sent to sub-jail |
Over a thousand law enforcers raid her residence at dawn; she is charged with extorting Tk 3 crore
The joint forces yesterday arrested Awami League (AL) President Sheikh Hasina at her Dhanmondi residence in the city at around daybreak and later a court sent her to jail on charges of extortion.
Hasina, also a former prime minister, had been detained several times in her 26 years at the helm of AL, all for campaigning against the autocratic regime in the '90s. This is the first time she has been arrested on a specific allegation of criminal offence.
Like it was the case during the rule of former military strongman HM Ershad, she is not entitled to bail under the Emergency Power Rules.
Sources close to her have told The Daily Star that she was bracing herself for what many consider was the inevitable.
Political observers see the arrest as a leap towards the "minus-two theory" that seeks to dethrone Hasina and BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia who have reigned over the country's politics for years. As of last night, there was however no indication of a move to haul in Khaleda.
Only a day before, the Election Commission (EC) announced a roadmap for the next general election amid bickering in AL and BNP over intra-party reforms.
Insiders say the pro-reform leaders in both the organisations have been working to arrange the councils in a way so their party chiefs cannot attend those. Some analysts believe the arrest might be somehow linked to those plans that reportedly enjoy tacit support from the military-backed interim administration.
In April, the government had tried to force Hasina stay abroad by imposing a ban on her coming home from the UK. But in the face of criticism both at home and abroad, it withdrew the restrictions, leading to a triumphant return for her.
From the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate's (CMM) Court, Dhaka, Hasina was taken to the Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban complex where a two-storey house built for the deputy speaker has been declared a sub-jail.
At the court, she protested her innocence. She said, "I have done nothing wrong. The charges against me have been brought only to hold me back from the next general election."
On June 13, Managing Director of East Coast Trading Ltd Azam J Chowdhury filed the case at Gulshan Police Station, accusing her of extorting, with others, Tk 2.96 crore from him for the installation work of a 210-megawatt power plant at Siddhirganj.
Some 1,000 members of the joint forces mostly from the Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) and the police sealed off the Dhanmondi Road No 5 area round about 4:40am in driving rain.
A 30-member dog squad along with at least 100 members of Rab and police entered the Sudha Sadan premises at around 4:50am. Five minutes later, as they rapped on the door, Hasina asked her staff to let them in and tell them to wait on the ground floor.
She said she would see them but not before saying her morning prayers, a personal staffer of her told The Daily Star.
Immediately after gaining entrance, the forces snapped all land phone lines and seized the mobile phones.
Minutes later, Sheikh Hasina came downstairs with her husband. "Why are you here? What wrong do you think I have done?" the staff quoted her as asking the waiting security personnel.
In reply, one said, "We have specific charges against you and we are going to take you to a court."
The last ones to talk to Hasina over phone were her son Sajeeb Wajed Joy and her daughter Saima Wajed Putul, both from the United States, and also her sister Sheikh Rehana. But the conversations ended abruptly as the phone lines were cut.
Earlier on Sunday night, she returned from the Bangabandhu Memorial Bhaban at around 10 and told all her relatives and staff that she was going to be picked up shortly. She asked them not to panic.
At around 2:00am, her police protection was withdrawn. They were ordered to report back to the Rajarbagh Police Lines immediately.
During the two-and-a-half-hour raid, the law enforcers rummaged about all three floors of the building. They also sifted through her files and documents.
At that time, the former premier was accompanied by Wajed Miah and two of her relatives--Shamim and Tutul. Her personal staffers were asked to leave the house at around 5:00am.
The joint forces set up at least three barricades on the road leading to the Sudha Sadan. Hundreds of Rab and police men stood guard throughout a two-kilometre radius of the residence.
They began taking position at 4:40am. Soon around one hundred intelligence officials including those from the military were seen going inside the Sudha Sadan.
At 7:30 in the morning, the AL chief, a never-say-die spirit, was walked into a navy blue SUV with tinted glasses. A 20-vehicle convoy carried her straight to the CMM Court as the road was kept free of traffic.
A smiling and seemingly unwavering Hasina in a white sari and scarf around her head was waving at the TV cameras when she was brought to the court at 7:50am. She was escorted to the courtroom of Magistrate Kamrunnahar through a huge crowd.
There presented, she gave a rousing statement defending herself against the charges when hundreds of AL activists and supporters were chanting slogans outside.
At one stage, some of the party faithful came to blows with the on-duty policemen.
Besides, the AL-backed lawyers clamouring for access to the courtroom had heated arguments with law enforcement officers.
The hearing continued for over two hours. Lawyers spoke alternately for Hasina, but to no avail. The court rejected their plea for bail and set August 15 as the date for the next hearing.
Among others, AL leaders Motia Chowdhury, former law minister Abdul Matin Khasru, Kamrul Islam, Sahara Khatun, Dr Dipu Moni stood for Hasina.
As the proceedings ended, she was whisked off the court premises. But meantime thousands gathered outside as the law enforcers struggled to free the road. The slogans calling for Hasina's release echoed through the area.
As things began to get worse with the AL supporters trying to stop the car carrying Hasina, the police charged baton and fired three rounds of rubber bullet to disperse the angry mob.
She accuses govt of conspiring to disqualify her from election|
Awami League (AL) President Sheikh Hasina yesterday said the military-backed caretaker government is conspiring to disqualify her from running in the next parliamentary elections by implicating her in
No one above law|
Chief Adviser (CA) Fakhruddin Ahmed has categorically said no one is above the law and anybody found corrupt or lawbreaker, whoever he or she may be, will be brought to justice.
Tense hours |
2:00am: Hasina's police protection is withdrawn.4:40am: Around 40 joint forces vehicles enter through Dhanmondi road 5/A towards Sudha Sadan.
Follow due process of law|
The United States and the United Kingdom have urged the caretaker government to ensure due process of law and international standards in dealing with former prime minister Sheikh Hasina, who was arrested
AL activists enraged|
Amid the state of emergency leaders and activists of Awami League (AL) and its different front organisations staged demonstrations at different places across the country protesting the arrest of their
27 years in politics no cakewalk for her|
Awami League (AL) President Sheikh Hasina was arrested and put under house arrest many times before, between 1983 and 1990, for her stance against the erstwhile military ruler and for her role in thefight
Most people decry arrest|
The majority of people The Daily Star talked to yesterday about Sheikh Hasina's arrest, expressed deep resentment over the government's move while a few termed the arrest as a significant step taken by
Moments before the arrest|
"Can I use my phone?" Hasina asked as members of the joint forces entered her room on the first floor of Sudha Sadhan at around 6:00am.
The case against her|
The case in which Awami League President Sheikh Hasina was arrested yesterday was filed on June 12 this year by Azam J Chowdhury, managing director of Eastcoast Trading Private Ltd, with Gulshan Police
Political leaders yesterday said the arrest of Awami League (AL) President Sheikh Hasina is unfortunate and unnecessary.
Joy vows to wage movement at home, abroad|
Former prime minister Sheikh Hasina's son Sajeeb Wazed Joy and younger sister Sheikh Rehana consider her arrest part of a 'conspiracy' and protested this.
Her statement to party men before arrest|
Awami League (AL) President and former prime minister Sheikh Hasina, in her pre-arrest statement yesterday, urged the countrymen and the leaders and workers of her party not to lose moral strength and
BCL calls student Strike today though banned|
Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL), the student wing of Awami League (AL), has called a strike at all educational institutions of the country today protesting the arrest of Sheikh Hasina although enforcing
Hasina's arrest welcomed|
Sadek Siddique, one of the initiators of a new political party, coming out from sickbed led a procession yesterday under police protection welcoming the arrest of former prime minister Sheikh Hasina.