The Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (CMM) Court of Dhaka on Monday summoned BNP Chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia to appear before it on March 23 to explain her comments on the number of martyrs in the independence war of 1971. Magistrate Mohammad Rashed Talukdar of the court passed the order Monday noon in a sedition case after he took cognizance of the charge against the BNP Chairperson under Sections 123 (A), 124 (A) and 505 of the Penal Code.
Earlier, Supreme Court lawyer Momtaz Uddin Ahmed Mehedi, an executive body member of Bangladesh Awami League, filed the case with the court, seeking arrest warrant for Khaleda Zia.
Former Home Minister Advocate Sahara Khatun, Abdul Mannan Khan, Public Prosecutor of Dhaka District and Sessions Judge’s court, Mohammad Abdullah Abu, Public Prosecutor of Dhaka Metropolitan Session Judge’s Court stood in the court on behalf of the petitioner. The cognizance begun at about 11 AM.
Meanwhile, pro-BNP lawyers demonstrated outside the court against the acceptance of the treason charge against Khaleda Zia and they also raised anti-government slogans.
On last December 21, Khaleda Zia at a discussion at the Institution of Engineers, Bangladesh raised questions about the actual number of Liberation War martyrs saying, “There’re controversies over how many were martyred in the Liberation War. There’re also many books and documents on the controversies.” Her remarks triggered criticisms.
On December 23, lawyer Momtaz Mehedi sent a legal notice to the BNP Chief, asking her to apologize to the nation about her comments on the number of the Liberation War martyrs. In the notice, he demanded that the BNP Chairperson withdraw her statement within seven days, and warned of filing a case against her under both criminal and civil laws if she did not apologize.
Complainant Mehedi also alleged that Khaleda through her remarks exposed her
seditious attitude. As the BNP Chief did not respond to the notice, Mehedi sought the
Home Ministry’s approval last week to lodge the case. Later, on January 21, the Home Ministry approved filing of the sedition case against Khaleda Zia.
On Sunday, Khaleda Zia’s Adviser and Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) President Khandaker Mahbub Hossain claimed that there was nothing seditious in BNP Chairperson’s remarks about the martyrs who laid down their lives during the 1971 bloody struggle.
“Khaleda Zia’s remarks were correct. Those are not seditious as per Section 124 (a) of the Code of Criminal Procedure that defines sedition,” he said while talking to newsmen at his SCBA office.
He also said, they will find out authentic information on the number of martyrs if BNP returns to power. “This will be included in the election manifesto of BNP during the next election,” he added.
In an immediate reaction, BNP Acting Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir on Monday termed the sedition case against BNP a mockery and also said that this was done just out of political vengeance to remove her from politics.