A local court issued an arrest warrant on Thursday against Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) chief Khaleda Zia over her controversial birthday celebration on August 15, which is observed as National Mourning Day in the country in memory of the assassination of founding leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his family members in 1975.
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is Rahman’s daughter.
“(Zia) was summoned by the court but she did not appear during three previous hearings... So the magistrate issued the arrest warrant in line with legal procedure,” a court official told PTI.
He said Zia’s “defiance” prompted the prosecution to seek the arrest warrant. Metropolitan Magistrate of Dhaka Mazharul Islam also asked the police to submit a compliance report on March 2 next year.
Legal experts said the police were unlikely to arrest the former prime minister immediately as they had been given nearly four months to comply with the order and by that time, she could secure bail, appearing in person before the court.
Zia’s birthday celebration on August 15 has been a major irritant for the ruling Awami League since she began to celebrate it on the day in 1996, the year the Awami League led by archrival Hasina returned to power.
A journalist in August this year filed a case questioning the genuineness of the birthday, alleging that Zia chose the day only to ridicule Rahman, known as the “father of the nation”.
The complainant said according to Zia’s marriage certificate she was born on August 9, 1944, her first passport says the date is August 5, her school final exam marksheet says she was born on September 5, 1946, while her official biography published in 1991 says the date is August 19, 1945.
“I have submitted copies of all these documents before the court as none of those suggest that she was born on August 15,” complainant Gazi Zahir earlier told reporters.
Hasina’s elder son and ICT affairs adviser to the premier Sajeeb Ahmed Wazed Joy said in a Facebook post earlier that Zia displayed “real bad taste” by celebrating her “fake” birthday on August 15.
“What kind of person does this?” he asked.