Khaleda Zia evicted from home (Lead)

November 13th, 2010 - 12:53 pm ICT by IANS  

Sheikh Hasina Dhaka, Nov 13 (IANS) Former Bangladesh prime minister and opposition leader Khaleda Zia was Saturday morning evicted from the government house which was given to her after her husband’s assassination in 1981. The Hasina government has told the court the allotment was illegal.

Police and Rapid Action Battalion personnel entered Zia’s house in the Dhaka Cantonment area and evicted her, Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) standing committee member Lt Gen (retd) Mahbubur Rahman said.

“What would be done should be done in a graceful way, so that no bad precedence is created,” Rahman, a former army chief, was quoted as saying by The Daily Star.

A caretaker of Zia’s residence told online newspaper bdnews24.com that law enforcers entered the house and took positions in the yard and roof at around 8.30 a.m.

“Madam (Khaleda Zia) has woken up. She is in her room,” he said.

Meanwhile, another caretaker told bdnews24.com that the forces started taking positions in front of the premises at around 6.30 a.m. Saturday.

The government’s move came after months of political and legal wrangle over the house that was given to Zia in June 1981, after the assassination of her husband, then president Ziaur Rahman.

That was in recognition of the services that her husband, a former freedom fighter and military ruler who subsequently got elected to the post of the president, had rendered to the country.

The Hasina government told the Dhaka High Court that the allotment of the house was illegal and it should be vacated.

Hasina said she wants to use the house to resettle families of army officers who were killed in a mutiny staged in February 2009 by troopers of Bangladesh Rifles (BDR), the country’s border guards.

A high court bench last month rejected Zia’s appeal against the eviction order and set Nov 12 as the deadline by which she should vacate the house.

Zia has moved the Supreme Court, which has kept the hearing pending till Nov 29.

Political observers, meanwhile, said the government’s move would sharpen the conflict between Zia and her arch political rival, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

“It would not be right to oust the former prime minister forcibly since her appeal is pending for hearing at the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court on November 29,” an aide said.

Another Zia aide denied reports that she was leaving the house voluntarily as claimed by the military authorities under whom the ownership of the house in the cantonment falls.

It is “false and ill-intentioned to confuse people”, Zia’s press secretary Maruf Kamal Khan told bdnews24.com, about the claim made in a statement by the Inter Services Public Relations department (ISPR).

“(Khaleda Zia) is not leaving her house at her own will,” he said.

Zia, a two-term prime minister, lost the December 2008 parliamentary election that was swept by Hasina.

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