Despite two arrest warrants hanging over her head, Khaleda Zia has decided not to surrender before the court to seek bail today, drawing public attention on government actions regarding her arrest.
A special court in Dhaka, which ordered last week to arrest the BNP chairperson in two graft cases, resumes proceedings of the cases today.
Party sources close to Khaleda said she was determined not to leave her Gulshan office where she has been staying for two months.
She would not surrender before the court “come what may,” they added.
If she came out of her office to go to the court, BNP leaders fear, the government might not allow her to return to the office and might forcibly send her to her residence.
“She will not go to the court tomorrow [today] on security grounds,” Sanaullah Mia, one of her counsels, told The Daily Star yesterday.
Supreme Court Bar Association President Khandker Mahbub Hossain, another counsel of Khaleda, said the BNP chief would surrender to the court if the government ensured her security to and from the court.
Government and ruling Awami League policymakers remain undecided about arresting Khaleda.
Some of them say Khaleda’s arrest might add fuel to the opposition movement and the BNP-led 20-party combine might benefit from it.
But some others are for taking tough actions against the BNP chief, including her arrest by today. They are also in favour of sending Khaleda to her residence from her political office.
Meantime, Khaleda has given “special instructions” to at least 54 district BNP leaders to intensify the agitation and not be demoralised even if she is arrested, said sources at her Gulshan office.
Several district leaders, including those in Khulna and Bogra, confirmed this over the phone.
According to BNP sources, Khaleda wants the government to arrest her. While this will invite international pressure on the government, it will also boost the opposition morale.
The police remain inactive even a week after the arrest warrants were issued.
A Dhaka court on February 25 ordered to arrest Khaleda for skipping court hearing on four consecutive dates in Zia Charitable Trust and Zia Orphanage Trust graft cases.
Asked, police yesterday said they were yet to receive the orders.
Gulshan police, however, received a court order to search Khaleda’s Gulshan office for communication devices only hours after it was issued on Sunday.
But the police were yet to search her office till yesterday.
Contacted, State Minister for Home Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal claimed the police stations concerned and his ministry did not receive the search and arrest orders.
“We will act as per the legal instructions. We will not deviate from law even by an inch,” he told this correspondent yesterday.
He added they were also waiting for the High Court directives as two petitions of Khaleda expressing no-confidence in a trial court judge dealing with the two graft cases remain pending with the HC.
“If she [Khaleda] appears before the court tomorrow [today] and is granted bail, we will have nothing to do in this regard,” he said.
Meantime, Khaleda’s counsel Sanaullah yesterday filed two petitions to the court, which issued the arrest warrants, seeking withdrawal of the orders.
The petitions said the BNP chief filed two petitions on January 28 with the HC expressing no-confidence in the trial judge and seeking transfer of the cases.
“The arrest warrants should be withdrawn until disposal of the two petitions [before the HC],” said the petitions.
Judge Abu Ahmed Jamadar of the special judge court-3 of Dhaka fixed today for hearing of the petitions.
Yesterday, Khaleda filed two more petitions with the HC seeking stay on the arrest warrants.
When the special court on February 25 ordered to arrest Khaleda, it also ordered Sanaullah, who is representing Tarique Rahman in the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case, to produce him before the court today.
Asked about this, Sanaullah said: “I could not contact with him [Tarique].”
The latest political development has raised fear in public mind that violence would escalate.
The US embassy in Dhaka yesterday announced that services would not be available today at the American Centre, EMK Centre and American Corners in Chittagong, Sylhet, Khulna and Rajshahi.
In Dhaka, the embassy will limit its operations to essential services only, according to a notice on the embassy’s Facebook page.
“All visa and consular appointments for March 4 have been cancelled. Client who had March 4 appointments are advised to check their email for further instructions,” said the notice.
The embassy expects to resume normal operations tomorrow.
Asked about the unscheduled closure, embassy Spokesperson Monica L Shie said, “Operations will be limited due to security concerns.”