I am free today, but this freedom may be short-lived: ex-Bangladesh Minister

first_imgFormer Bangladesh Communication Minister Salahuddin Ahmed thinks he will go from a life on bail in India to a life in jail back home because of a “vicious political atmosphere” under Sheikh Hasina’s government.On Friday, a local court in Meghalaya capital Shillong acquitted Mr. Ahmed, who was arrested in May 2015 for entering the State without valid documents. The court also directed the authorities concerned to facilitate his repatriation process.The former Minister, a top leader of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, has been staying at a Shillong hotel since receiving bail months ago with the condition of remaining within the city limits.“I am thankful to the governments of India and Meghalaya for their cooperation. Justice has been delivered and I am free today, but this freedom may be short-lived as I could be jailed on trumped-up charges upon return to Bangladesh,” Mr. Ahmed told The Hindu from Shillong.“There are security issues for anyone opposed to the Hasina regime in Bangladesh. But home is home, and I am ready to face the challenges in a country where forced disappearances and action against dissenters is normal,” he said.He claimed even BNP chief and former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia has not been spared. In February, a Dhaka court sentenced Ms. Zia to five years’ imprisonment in an orphanage corruption case.Mysterious entry Mr. Ahmed said he still has no idea how he came to be “hanging around aimlessly” in Shillong’s Golf Link area from where he was arrested on May 11, 2015. “All I can remember is some armed personnel in civilian clothes abducting, blindfolding and dumping me somewhere,” he said.Members of Mr. Ahmed’s family had then said he had been missing for two months in Bangladesh before appearing mysteriously in India. His relatives are expected to arrive to take him back home once the repatriation process is through.The former Bangladesh Minister ruled out the possibility of his seeking asylum in a third country. “I never intended to leave my country. I will stay in Bangladesh and fight for an end to oppression and the return to democracy,” he said.Mr. Ahmed is hopeful about contesting the general election in Bangladesh likely to be held in December.last_img

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