Home / Bangladesh / ‘Missing’ Salahuddin contacts family

‘Missing’ Salahuddin contacts family

sala‘I am alive’, the BNP leader tells his wife from Meghalaya hospital

BNP Joint Secretary General Salahuddin Ahmed, missing for over two months, was found at a mental hospital in the north-eastern Indian state of Meghalaya, close to the Bangladesh border, Monday morning. Sources in Meghalaya’s capital Shillong said people found Salahuddin wandering aimlessly in the Golf Link area and informed police.
Police took him into custody and sent him to the Meghalaya Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (MIMHANS) in Shillong for treatment, the sources added.
Hasina Ahmed, wife of the former state minister, confirmed this at a press briefing at her Gulshan residence yesterday.
“He (Salahuddin) has been traced at MIMHANS in Shillong, Meghalaya. The hospital authorities informed me over telephone and later my husband talked to me and said he is alive,” she said.
Salahuddin’s wife, also a former BNP lawmaker, sought the government’s cooperation to bring Salahuddin back to the country immediately.
She further said they are trying to reach him (Salahuddin) as soon as possible and sought cooperation from all concerned.
After receiving information on the whereabouts of her husband, Hasina met BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia at her Gulshan residence at 11:40am, according to party sources.
sala uddinDuring her stay there, Salahuddin Ahmed also talked to the BNP chairperson, the sources said.
Hasina said that knowing about Salahuddin’s whereabouts, the former premier expressed her gratitude to the Almighty Allah.
Earlier, after emerging from Khaleda’s residence, Hasina confirmed to journalists that her husband has been traced in a hospital in Meghalaya.
When contacted, Shillong Times editor Manas Chaudhuri told The Independent yesterday that local people suspected the movements of Salahuddin Ahmed as he was wandering aimlessly on Monday morning. The people informed the police and the Shillong police arrested him.
Referring to the Shillong police, Chaudhuri, also a former cabinet minister in the Meghalaya government, said at first they suspected that he was abnormal and he was admitted to a civil hospital in Shillong and was later referred to NIMHANS.
A doctor of MIMHANS informed him that Salahuddin was well but has cardiac problems. “Later, he was admitted to a civil hospital for treatment under police custody,” he added.
Shillong Times said police on Monday morning arrested one Bangladeshi national from the city. Police said the Bangladeshi national Salahuddin Ahmed (54) was arrested from the Golf Link area of Shillong. The matter is under investigation.
Meanwhile, The Northeast Today, a leading newspaper in northern India, reports that when asked about his identity soon after coming out of the MIMHANS on Tuesday, the patient identified himself as Salahuddin Ahmed, a BNP leader. However, when asked how he arrived at Shillong, he replied, “I do not know.”
Meghalaya police, however, are yet to ascertain the identity of Ahmed stating that interrogation is yet to be conducted since he is not keeping well. “We were supposed to produce him in court but due to his ill health, the process is delayed,” Meghalaya’s East Khasi Hills Superintendent of Police, M Kharkrang, said, adding that Ahmed is currently being shifted to Shillong Civil Hospital for better treatment, adds the Northeast Today report.
According to Kharkrang, the information will be passed on to the Police Headquarters to verify the facts with the central government. “We have already registered a case under the Foreigners Act against Ahmed for illegally entering India,” he added.
The police chief said that Ahmed was found loitering around the streets of Shillong on Monday when he was picked up by policemen and he was shifted to Shillong Civil Hospital and thereon referred to the MIMHANS.
MIMHANS Additional Superintendent Dr D Synkon said that they received a police requisite on Monday afternoon regarding a person who claimed to be Salahuddin Ahmed. “He was brought to the MIMHANS but after proper check up, our psychiatrists found out that the patient was mentally sound, but he had complained of heart problems which is why we are referring him to Shillong Civil Hospital,” Dr Synkon said.
Meanwhile, the BNP yesterday said with the return of Salahuddin Ahmed to the country, it would be cleared who took him to Shillong.
“All the mysteries will be revealed when he will return home,” said BNP International Affairs Secretary Dr Asaduzzaman Ripon at a doa and milad mahfil at the party headquarters at Naya Paltan.
Jatiyatabadi Swechchasebak Dal organised the function for the salvation of the departed soul of Nasiruddin Ahmed Pintu.
The BNP spokeperons made the comments hours after the news of finding the BNP leader in a Meghalaya hospital was spread.
Salahuddin Ahmed went missing from a residence at Uttara in the city on March 10. He was performing duties as the party’s spokesperson after the arrest of two other leaders– Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir and Ruhul Kabir Rizvi.
The BNP and Salahuddin’s family members were blaming law enforcers for his disappearance.
Salahuddin Ahmed’s disappearance at the height of anti-government protests raised widespread concerns following similar disappearances of opposition activists, including former lawmaker Elias Ali and former ward commissioner Chowdhury Alam.
Hasina Ahmed alleged that her husband was picked up by police detectives from a house located at Road No. 13-B, Uttara Section No. 3 on the night of March 10. Police and the government, however, denied that he was in their custody. She said then that the BNP leader had called her over phone just before he went missing.
Hasina further complained that the Uttara and Gulshan police stations had refused to accept their complaints. She then moved the High Court, seeking to know the whereabouts of her husband. Law-enforcers told the court that he was not arrested and they did not know where he was.
On April 12, the High Court instructed the authorities to carry out a search for Salahuddin and file a report every month on its progress for the next six months.
Salahuddin had issued a number of hard-hitting anti-government statements from an unidentified location, urging people to join the months-long transport blockade announced by Khaleda Zia, aiming to topple the government.
Statements signed by Salahuddin were being circulated to the media until March 10, when he was “disappeared”.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said then that the BNP leader was not arrested, but was being sought by the security forces. She also hinted that the BNP had orchestrated his “disappearance”.
Salahuddin’s wife meanwhile sought the prime minister’s intervention to trace her husband and went to the PMO twice — on March 19 and April 7 — to hand over memorandums. She also sought an appointment with the prime minister.
Salahuddin had also served as an assistant private secretary to Khaleda during her 1991-96 tenure when he was a civil servant.
The Inspector General of Police (IGP), AKM Shahidul Islam, said the conversation between Salahudidn Ahmed and his wife made it clear that the BNP leader was not abducted by law enforcement agencies. He made this comment while talking to reporters at the police headquarters in the capital after the news about Salahuddin whereabouts was spread. “Police were looking for him after he went missing. A number of sabotage cases were filed against him. The court has issued arrest warrants against him and we will look into the matter as to how he went to India,” he said.