September 03, 2007

Khaleda Zia behind bars

People say that there is never a dull day in Bangladesh politics. Today early in the morning the military-backed (care-taker) interim government in Bangladesh had arrested former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia on corruption charges. His son was also arrested on the same charge. Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying has detailed timeline of the events leading to her arrest. It was surprisingly a televised even as the news of the arrest was leaked and the media was trailing the security forces convoy rolling to her house.

Earlier in midnight a case was filed against her where she was accused of favoring her son misusing her power by awarding contracts to a local company, when she was in power. Her elder son is already behind bars also facing corruption charges. She will share a makeshift detention center in the parliament compound with her longtime political rival Sheikh Hasina who is also detained on charges of corruption.

Dozens of high profile Bangladeshi politicians and businessmen are behind the bar because of the governments ongoing battle against corruption and cleansing of the politics in Bangladesh. Bangladesh is under a state of emergency since January 11, 2007, when this interim government was formed.

The Bangladeshi blogosphere has mixed feelings over this issue. Shafiur is delighted hearing this news and distributing misti (sweets) on the net. He is sarcastic about this:
She and her son Koko have not been upfront about their various financial activities, and so it is hoped they will be helped to become more transparent in special quarters set aside for them.
People were discussing after the arrest of Sheikh Hasina about one and a half months ago why no charges were being brought against Khaleda Zia. There are also speculations that a certain quarter is trying to get rid of these political icons and use the space to clinch power. The Voice of Bangladeshi Bloggers comments:
Finally, the former Prime Minister of Bangladesh, the mother of all corruption, has been arrested by the army backed care taker government. They're now trying to balance their action by arresting Khaleda Zia.
Khaleda Zia told in an exclusive interview with hours before the arrest:
"I'm not afraid of arrest. People are with me. The case against me is false."
Dhaka blog comments on Khaleda Zia's remarks:
I just don't like politicians from every party crying out "the cases against me are false" and "conspiracy" every time they suffer political intimidation. If there were really these many "conspiracies" in Bangladesh, our GDP would have shot up a bit more!
But the question still remains whether this will pave the way towards restoring democracy in Bangladesh. Rumi writes in Drishtipat Blog ironically:
A significant number of people have been blaming two main political leaders for all the vice of Bangladesh. Now as both the causes of the all the evil are effectively contained in jail cells, so a sun of eternal lasting peace is supposed to rise in the horizon today. People should start living in immense joy, peace and happiness. No more there should be any chaos, corruption, poverty, lawlessness, hunger, crime in this country. There would be everlasting peace.
People commenting on this post also had mixed reactions. While some were gleeful and lauded the government one questioned:
Interesting to see that we, Bangladeshis, judge situation by heart; not by brain. None of the allegations are proved against KZ or SH, though some bloggers are ready to hang them till death!
The country is suffering from high inflation and recent unrest after riot broke out with students and police over withdrawing an army camp from a university campus led to declaration of curfew. The care-taker government promised holding of election by end of 2008 after completing a massive new voter ID project.

(Cross-posted in the Global Voices Online & E-Bangladesh)


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