Bangladeshi party decries India’s ‘unilateral decisions’

April 3rd, 2008 - 3:38 pm ICT by admin  

Dhaka, April 3 (IANS) Bangladesh’s caretaker government lacks the courage to protest against India’s “unilateral decisions” to withdraw waters of the Ganges and cancel export of rice to the country, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has alleged. The party of jailed former prime minister Begum Khaleda Zia also accused India’s Border Security Force (BSF) of killing Bangladeshi civilians.

“The government does not have the courage to protest at such incidents,” BNP’s organising secretary Mohammed Shahjahan was quoted as saying in the New Age newspaper Thursday.

There was no reaction to the charges from authorities in Dhaka working on the bilateral arrangements with India.

While Bangladesh and India share the Ganges waters under a 1996 bilateral agreement. India has just announced that it will sell rice to Bangladesh at a reduced rate, despite hiking the export price for all other countries.

BSF and Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) frequently engage in mutual accusations on illegal movement of personnel, cattle and goods along 4,300 km border between the two countries.

Shahjehan released a statement by a group of 126 former lawmakers of BNP accusing the current government of hatching “a conspiracy to de-politicise” the country and work to create “a rubber stamp parliament”.

The former lawmakers demanded that the government withdraw the state of emergency that has been in force since January last year, imposing a blanket ban on political activity.

They demanded unconditional release of Zia, in jail since last September for graft charges, her two sons and many former ministers and lawmakers saying that the charges levelled against them were politically motivated.

The interim government of Chief Advisor Fakhruddin Ahmed has said it would hold elections only in December for which it has offered to hold dialogue later this month.

The BNP, however, wants immediate elections.

“(A) Conspiracy is on to de-politicise the country and to create a rubber stamp parliament keeping politicians out of the electoral process,” Shahjahan said.

He said the government was using its anti-corruption drive to pin down the politicians.

Over 200,000 persons, including about 200 high profile politicians, have been jailed and put on trial since January last year.

A dozen politicians, most of them from BNP, have been convicted and sentenced to jail.

BNP ruled Bangladesh during 1991-96 and 2001-06. It has been virtually split into two groups since Zia was sent to jail last September.

Both Zia and her rival, another jailed former prime minister Sheikh Hasina, have blamed the government for fomenting dissensions within their parties in the name of encouraging political reforms.

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