Zia threatens agitation over loss of home

April 10th, 2009 - 1:50 pm ICT by IANS  

Sheikh Hasina Dhaka, April 10 (IANS) Bangladesh opposition leader Khaleda Zia has threatened to launch an agitation after the Sheikh Hasina government cancelled the lease of a house she has lived in for the last 28 years.
A protest rally and procession was held in the national capital where leaders of Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) said they were “prepared to go to the people” on the issue.

The government cancelled the lease of Zia’s house in Dhaka Cantonment earlier this week.

Hasina told parliament last week that there were “numerous anomalies” in the way Zia had wrested the allotment and urged her to move out of the home.

Zia has denied any wrongdoing and said she would seek legal recourse.

Zia’s supporters say this is a tit-for-tat by the government since Zia, when in power, had cancelled a house allotted to Hasina’s younger sister Sheikh Rehana.

The Hasina government denies any political motive.

“As she (Khaleda) violated a number of conditions of the allotment, the government cancelled it,” Commerce Minister Faruk Khan told The Daily Star newspaper.

Hasina says her government will demolish the house and build homes for families of officers killed in February’s mutiny by Bangladesh Rifles troopers.

Zia was allotted the house in 1981 after her husband, then president Ziaur Rahman, was assassinated in a military putsch.

The government says Zia was allotted a home in an upmarket residential area but she manipulated allotment in Dhaka Cantonment where, as an army officer’s wife, she has lived for most of her life.

Sections of the media have been critical of the government’s move.

The Daily Star, generally supportive of Hasina, said in an editorial Friday that the government had precipitated the cancellation without allowing Zia time to seek legal recourse.

“We must ask if the cabinet has nothing more serious than spending time on whether the leader of the opposition can or cannot stay in the house that has to all intents and purposes been hers for 28 years.

“Do the prime minister and her colleagues honestly think that it is an issue before which all other issues - national security, the economy, politics - dwindle in significance?” the editorial asked.

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