Former Bangladesh PM Zia told to quit home within 15 days

April 21st, 2009 - 12:14 pm ICT by IANS  

Sheikh Hasina Dhaka, April 21 (IANS) Bangladesh’s opposition leader and former prime minister Khaleda Zia has been given 15 days to leave her home, in which she has lived since the early 1980s, or face eviction.
Her Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has reacted in anger to the eviction notice and vowed to step up its protest rallies against the action of the Sheikh Hasina government.

The Directorate of Military Lands and Cantonments sent the notice Monday afternoon.

Zia has threatened confrontation, but has also said that she would take the legal course.

Zia was allotted the house, located within the Dhaka Cantonment, as a gesture when her husband Ziaur Rahman, then country’s president, was killed in a military putsch in 1981.

BNP spokesperson Nazrul Islam Khan said the notice has no legal basis.

“This is purely out of personal grudge. We’ll face it politically. It seems ousting Khaleda Zia from her house is their (Sheikh Hasina government’s) only task,” he said.

The notice lists five reasons for asking Zia to return the house to the military estate officer.

The house could not be sold or leased to a civilian under the Military Services Regulation. This made the 1981 allotment illegal, the notice said.

It was illegal to conduct political activities inside the protected area of a cantonment. This is also a threat to military discipline, safety and security of defence establishments, the notice mentioned.

The army cannot lease out any military land to an individual, according to the Cantonment Act.

Brig Gen (retd) Hannan Shah, adviser to the BNP chief, told The Daily Star, “Asking her to leave the house within 15 days is a violation of the Cantonment Act.”

On April 7, the government cancelled the allotment citing a number of “anomalies in the way the house was allotted”.

The decision came at a cabinet meeting presided over by Hasina.

A week before that, Hasina told parliament that the BNP chief was given the house “bypassing the rules of the Cantonment Board”.

The government denies that it is a tit-for-tat against Zia who had cancelled a house allotted to Hasina’s younger sister, Sheikh Rehana.

Hasina urged Zia to leave the house of her own accord so that a block of flats could be built for the families of the army officials killed in the Feb 25-26 Bangladesh Rifles carnage.

Over 80 people, including 55 army officers, were killed by mutinous border guard troopers at their headquarter located in the outskirts of Dhaka. The troopers had rebelled over low wages and poor working conditions.

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