PM warns of illegal power capture


DHAKA, Aug 21, 2017 (BSS) – Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today blasted Bangladesh’s comparison with Pakistan saying the chief justice should have quit before making such comparison and defaming parliament while issuing a strong note warning against illegal power capture.

“I will tell one word that everything could be tolerated, but comparing Bangladesh with Pakistan cannot be acceptable,” she told a function coinciding with the anniversary of the August 21, 2004 grenade attack.

Sheikh Hasina sought people to judge the comparison with Pakistan posing a question why “Bangladesh would be compared with Pakistan and Pakistani premier.”

“There would be no benefit in giving me such a threat,” she said.

The premier said usurping state power would not be allowed further in Bangladesh and “if anybody tries to do it he or she must face trial according to Article 7 of the constitution”.

The premier said the verdict scrapping the 16th constitutional amendment contained many contradictions while the chief justice raised question about electing women parliament members in the reserved seats.

According to parliamentary system, she said, the President is elected by the parliament members including women lawmakers, while the President appoints the chief justice.

She said if the women lawmakers are not elected then how the President would be elected.

“When you (chief justice) make criticism in this regard, then you will have to accept other . . . so you should have stepped down before making such a comment,” she said.

The discussion at the Krishibid Institution was joined by cabinet members, PM’s advisors, senior Awami League and 14-party leaders and family members of the martyrs and those injured in the August 21 grenade attack.

Twenty-four people including the then president of Awami Mohila and late President Zillur Rahman’s wife Ivy Rahman, were killed and over 500 others suffered splinter injuries in the barbaric attack and many of them became crippled for life.

The attack was carried out at an anti-terrorism rally of Awami League (AL) at Bangabandhu Avenue in the capital on August 21 in 2004 visibly aiming to wipe out the party leadership during the BNP-Jamaat alliance government.

Sheikh Hasina narrowly escaped the attack but sustained hearing impairment due to the impact of the repeated grenade blasts near the truck-dais of the huge public rally.

Earlier, the premier paid homage to the martyrs of the August 21 carnage by placing floral wreaths on a makeshift memorial in front of the Krishibid Institution.

She first placed a wreath at the memorial and then another, flanked by leaders of Awami League, as president of the party.

Earlier, a minute’s silence was observed as a mark of profound respect to the memories of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and other martyrs of the August 15 carnage, the four national leaders and the martyrs of the August 21 massacre.

AL Advisory Council Members Amir Hossain Amu and Tofail Ahmed, Presidium Members Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim, Syed Ashraful Islam and General Secretary Obaidul Quader, Workers Party President Rashed Khan Menon, Bangladesh Tariqat Federation President Alhaj Najibul Bashar Maizbhandari, Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JSD) President and Information Minister Hasanul Huq Inu, JSD Executive President Moinuddin Khan Badal, Samyabadi Dal General Secretary Dilip Barua, AL Organizing Secretary AFM Bahauddin Nasim, eminent writer Imdadul Haque Milon spoke on the occasion.

AL Publicity Secretary Dr Hasan Mahmood and Deputy Publicly Secretary Aminul Islam Amin conducted the meeting.

The prime minister said Bangabandhu had incorporated women reserved seat in the constitution as he believed in women empowerment. “Our government has raised the number of women lawmakers in the reserved seat to 50,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said those who are elected directly in parliament meaning electoral college elect female lawmakers. It’s the democratic system and it’s made as per the constitution, she said. “But the chief justice made a comment in this regard that why the female lawmakers are elected?” she added.

Sheikh Hasina said there are many contradictions in his verdict. “I’m going through the verdict and taking notes. By the grace of the Almighty, I could say in the Jatiya Sangsad,” she said.

The prime minister said comparing Bangladesh with Pakistan is very insulting. “So I seek justice from the people as their court is the biggest one and none could ignore it,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh defeated Pakistan in the liberation war. Many collaborated Pakistan in the war and that collaborator group grabbed power after August 15, 1975 … it’s the reality,” she said.

The prime minister said Bangabandhu had liberated the country, while our government gave institutional shape to all organisations. “There is a word that independence is good but it’s not good for boys. So we don’t expect behaviour like a boy,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said: “The country is marching ahead and we want that the trend of development continues in Bangladesh and it would be kept ongoing if Awami League and the pro-liberation forces stay in power.”

She said the country won’t advance further if the anti-liberation forces like Razakar, al-Badr and Peace Committee members come to power. “We have seen it in 21 years after 1975 … we don’t want the people to suffer again,” she said.

The prime minister said the higher court is making political comments and undermine parliament by mentioning the lawmakers as criminals. The parliament has businessmen and it is being mention in the higher court.

“Is doing business a crime and does the court not gives verdict in their favour when they lodge case,” she said, adding they also get justice. “So what is their offence if they are elected MPs,” she said. “What is the meaning of defaming parliament and making comments about it,” she questioned.

Sheikh Hasina said the democratic trend in the country was restored after a long struggle. “The country witnessed coup, killing and conspiracy for 21 years but, we returned back the country on the right track after long struggle,” she said.

The prime minister said in the chief justice’s verdict comments were made on the parliament, MPs and even the efforts of taking away power of the President. “What type of words these are?”

The prime minister said the country has a constitution which it earned in exchange of blood of three million martyrs. “The chief justice doesn’t like some articles that were in the main constitution, but he likes the Supreme Judicial Council that Ziaur Rahman made through the martial law ordinances after grabbing power illegally,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said the Anti Corruption Commission wanted to investigate the corruption of Justice Joynul Abedin. But the chief justice wrote a letter that this probe couldn’t be made, she said.

“How the chief justice can say that investigation against a judge cannot be conducted and it’s not a work of a chief justice to protect a corrupt … it’s the violation and neglecting of the constitution,” she said.

The premier said she doesn’t know how much scope the appellate division judges got to give opinion about the verdict on the 16th amendment. “The chief justice might not give them that scope and it’s understandable after going through the judgement,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said the President appoints the chief justice. But the chief justice wants to take away the power of the president, she said, adding it’s not a job of the apex court to protect corrupts and make indecent comments against the MPs.

The prime minister also lambasted Dr Kamal Hossain for scolding the attorney general in a filthy language.

The prime minister said the chief justice in his verdict made a wrong comment that the cabinet takes the decision about the duration of the parliament session.

“We never discuss in the cabinet how many days the parliament session will continue … if he has some ideas about parliamentary proceedings, he could not write that the cabinet takes all decisions,” she said, adding that the Parliamentary Advisory Committee takes decisions.

“There were many wrong comments in the verdict and there is need to read the verdict throughly and there is scope to make many comments in every point. It will have to be projected before the nation,” she said.

The prime minister said the MPs are public representatives and they are voted by the people. “We are accountable to the voters and five years our tenure and we have to stand before the public court after that time,” she said.

Regarding the 2014 election, the prime minister said if any party did not take part in the elections, it’s their responsibility. “The BNP wanted to create an abnormal situation in the country by enforcing hartal and blockades. But nobody did response to their call … they even didn’t get response from the north,” she said.

She said the BNP didn’t get any response as the people rejected the politics of arson attacks and vandalism. The BNP could not be able to resist the elections as the people went to the polling centres.

She said the election was held as per the election law and it’s not the faults of those who were elected unopposed in the polls.

The prime minister also criticised the chief justice for his comments about development in the country. In this connection, she highlighted impressive development that took place in different sectors including poverty reduction, increasing life expectancy of the people, generation of electricity, raising literacy rate and improving living standard of the people.

“The chief justice doesn’t see this development and whether he doesn’t move the flyovers and roads that the present government constructed,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina accused again the then BNP-Jamaat government of perpetrating the barbaric grenade attack on an Awami League rally in 2004.

“We were not allowed to utter a single word or discuss the matter in parliament. Even we were barred from bringing any motion in Jatiya Sangsad to condemn the attack. So it’s clear who were involved in this incident and there is no need to prove it by showing finger on the eyes,” she said.

In this connection, Sheikh Hasina, who narrowly escaped the gruesome grenade attack, referred to some remarks of Khaleda Zia and her party leaders and her son Tarique Zia staying in his father-in-law’s residence on Dhanmondi road No. 5 in the capital before the grisly grenade attack.

“Begum Zia had said that I would never be the Prime Minister or even the leader of the opposition in future, while her elder son stayed at his father-in-law’s residence in Dhanmondi for 8/10 months consecutively,” she said, posing a question if Tarique Zia lived in Dhanmondi to hatch conspiracy against her.

“It seemed from the comments of the BNP leader and her party men that they wanted to remove me from this world,” she said.

Holding the BNP government responsible for destroying the evidence of the grenade attack, the premier said the attackers left the scene under the cover of the law enforcement agencies and they destroyed the unexploded grenades and helped the grenade suppliers to leave the country.

Sheikh Hasina said any efforts were not seen to rescue the injured on Bangabandhu Avenue. Instead, the policemen lobbed teargas and resorted to baton charge to disperse those AL leaders and workers who came forward to the help of the injured, she said, adding the law enforcers also didn’t allow any vehicles to the scene.

“Why did the policemen resort to lathi charge and fired tear gas in this way? The aim of this was to allow attackers to flee without any hindrance,” she said.