Hasina Ahmed, wife of BNP leader Salahuddin Ahmed now undergoing treatment in police custody at NEIGRIHMS Hospital in Shillong, has told an Indian daily that her husband was “not safe” in Bangladesh.
“My husband is not safe in Bangladesh. I cannot take him back there. Instead, if the law here permits, I want to shift him as early as possible to Singapore where he has been undergoing treatment for his cardiac and kidney problems for the past several years,” she told the Indian Express in an exclusive interview that was released yesterday.
Hasina said she doesn’t know what happened to him after he went missing from a residence in Uttara in Dhaka on March 10.
Extracts; “I don’t know where he was all these days… I don’t know how he landed up here in Shillong. I am, however, glad he is safe here and is being taken care of very well,” said Hasina, a former MP.
Ahmed, who has been arrested for violating the Foreigners Act, is currently undergoing treatment at the NEIGRIHMS Hospital here. He is guarded round the clock by armed Meghalaya police personnel. A court here on Friday held in abeyance a bail petition moved on his behalf by his wife, and directed the police to submit a report by May 29.
“My husband is very sick. He already has three stents in his heart, while his left kidney is not functioning properly. I am not saying that he is not getting good treatment here. But the Mt Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore knows his history and has been treating him for nearly 20 years. And, if I take him to Bangladesh now, I don’t know what will happen,” said Hasina, who arrived here on May 18.
NEIGRIHMS Hospital medical superintendent Anil Phukan refused to comment on Ahmed’s health.
Recalling his disappearance, Hasina said: “I got information on March 11 that some people had whisked him away when he had gone to see a friend in Uttara, a locality in Dhaka, the previous evening. People said there were several vehicles belonging to a government agency at the time of his abduction. I don’t know who abducted him or why.”
She said: “I first went to the police station in Gulshan, the locality where we live. But the police refused to even make a general diary entry. They asked me to go to Uttara… The police station at Uttara said they could not register an FIR unless I produced a witness. The next day (March 12), I approached the high court, which asked the government to find my husband. It also asked the home department to submit a report on the investigation on the first of every month.”
She said she sought an appointment with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, but there was no response. “Though I sent two petitions, the prime minister has not been able to find time for me… I have also knocked on the doors of the IGP, but there has been no response,” she said.
Meanwhile, media reports from Dhaka quoted Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan as saying that Ahmed would be taken to Dhaka and tried on charges of instigating violence during BNP-sponsored strikes.
A Masters in Law from Dhaka University, Ahmed, then a Bangladesh Civil Service officer, served as additional private secretary to then Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia from 1991 to 1996. He later joined the BNP and was elected MP from Cox’s Bazar for two consecutive terms in 1996 and 2001. He also served as a minister of state for communications in the then Khaleda Zia government.
“In 2007, he was among several senior BNP leaders who were put behind bars by the subsequent regime, to be released only two years later. In between, his wife was elected as the BNP MP from Cox’s Bazar in 2008,” said a BNP district-level leader who is among several others who have come to Shillong.
“Ahmed was named in as many as 24 cases in the last few years… He was last arrested in April 2013, immediately after he addressed a press conference in connection with a nationwide general strike,” he said.
Several senior BNP functionaries are currently in jail for their alleged anti-government activities.