Former Prime Minister and Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) leader Khaleda Zia secured bail in a total of five cases, including a sedition case, after she surrendered before separate courts in Dhaka on Tuesday.
A judge at the Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court granted her bail in the sedition case filed by a Supreme Court lawyer for her derogatory remarks on the number of country’s Liberation War martyrs. The magistrate took cognisance of the sedition charge. Police had initiated two other cases — one for death and arson attack on a passenger bus and the other over an anti-government agitation which the complainants said she had instigated.
The court earlier issued arrest warrants against Ms. Khaleda and 27 others in the two cases. It also directed the police to submit reports by April 27 on the execution of arrest warrants.
Hundreds of Bangladesh Nationalist Party’s (BNP) supporters and leaders surrounded the Metropolitan Sessions Judge’s Court complex in old Dhaka while police in riot gears kept a sharp vigil as Ms. Zia appeared in the court, electronic media footages showed.
The development came six days after the court issued an arrest warrant against the 70-year-old Ms. Zia and 37 others in connection with instigating a deadly petrol bomb attack on a bus during an anti-government protest last year.
Ms. Zia was spearheading a violent nationwide campaign to topple Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s ruling Awami League government.
Judge Kamrul Hossain Mollah last week issued the arrest warrant, asking police to execute the order and submit the compliance report by April 27.
Justice Mollah, after accepting the charges against 38 people, including the 28, ordered Zia’s arrest in connection with the arson attack in Jatrabari area here in January last year when her party spearheaded a violent nationwide campaign to topple Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League government.
“Khaleda will surrender before the Court of Metropolitan Sessions Judge on April 5,” Sanaullah Mia, one of her lawyers, had told reporters on Sunday.
Ms. Zia was charged by police with masterminding the arson attack on the bus that left one person dead and 30 others injured, nine critically.
The incident was one of many bomb attacks that Bangladesh witnessed in the three months since early January last year when the BNP-led 20-party alliance started an indefinite blockade.
The arrest order was another blow to the embattled two-time former premier, who has described previous cases, including corruption-related, against her as politically motivated and aimed at keeping her out of the country’s politics.
2015 Kashmir Despatch