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Home / India News / 2007 / May 2007 / May 7, 2007
Ex-Bangladesh PM Hasina heads for Dhaka
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Ex-Bangladesh PM Hasina heads for Dhaka

Awami League President and former Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina left London today, ending an eventful 52-day trip to the United States and the United Kingdom.

London/Dhaka, May 7 : Awami League President and former Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina left London today, ending an eventful 52-day trip to the United States and the United Kingdom.

Hasina boarded a Dhaka-bound flight of the Etihad Airways from London's Heathrow airport at 3:30 a.m. Bangladesh time and is expected to arrive at Dhaka's Zia International Airport at 4:25 p.m. after a stopover at Abu Dhabi, Awami League sources were quoted by local dailies, as saying.

Hasina was originally scheduled to fly home on April 23, but a ban slapped on her return to Dhaka by the interim government on April 18 prevented her from boarding a British Airways flight from London. It took a week for the ban to be lifted.

Prior to boarding her flight home, Hasina accused the military-backed caretaker government of ''betrayal'' and ''deliberate delay'' of parliamentary polls.

''I am literally seeing the betrayal unfold in front of my very eyes,'' Hasina said, expressing her concern at attempts by the interim government to ''deliberately delay'' the parliamentary polls.

''The biggest betrayal was that they would not let me return to the country. 'But what we see now is that not only have they not done anything substantive to hold the elections in the near future, but they are also actively trying to delay the elections for as long as possible,'' Hasina said, adding that she was not afraid or concerned about her impending arrest on charges of extortion and murder.

She said that being arrested was nothing to her, or to members of her family. She said that she had been under arrest during the Bangladesh war for independence, and again in the 1980s and 1990s. Her father, Sheikh Mujibur Rehman too had spent most of his life in jail.

Awami League sources said the party had not chalked up any programme for a formal reception for Hasina at the airport due to the state emergency, but confirmed that the Fakruddin Ahmed-led Government has allowed 10 senior party leaders to receive the former premier at the airport.

Asked if the party feared that Hasina could be arrested or harassed by other means like filing of cases after her return, AL General Secretary Jalil Ahmed said that any such attempt would be tackled legally.

Meanwhile, the government has strengthened security at the Sudha Sadan residence of Hasina from Sunday afternoon. Sudha Sadan sources said that two platoons of police were posted to Hasina's residence at about 4:30 p.m. on Sunday in addition to a regular 12-member security team.

Some leaders of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) have described Hasina's impending return as a positive development.

BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia's adviser, A S M Hannan Shah, said every citizen had a right to go on an overseas trip and return and no one should be denied the right.

When asked if he saw any possibility of a united movement by the BNP and the Awami League, Hannan Shah said, 'We are not complementary to each other, but if such a situation arises time will show the way'.

Elsewhere, 122 Dhaka University teachers loyal to the Awami League have also welcomed her return to Dhaka.

In a statement, they urged the government to ensure foolproof security measures for Hasina.


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