Bangladesh PM Hasina fails to meet grieving Zia; turned away from gate
Sheikh Hasina on Saturday drove to the office of her arch-rival Khaleda Zia, who suffered bereavement losing her youngest son, but the Bangladesh Prime Minister had to go back from the gate without meeting the BNP chief who was 'put to sleep by doctors'.
Dhaka: Sheikh Hasina on Saturday drove to the office of her arch-rival Khaleda Zia, who suffered bereavement losing her youngest son, but the Bangladesh Prime Minister had to go back from the gate without meeting the BNP chief who was 'put to sleep by doctors'.
Hasina arrived in front of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) chief's upmarket Gulshan office here but the gates were not opened while she waited outside for a few minutes.
"She (Hasina) returned from the gate," an official of the prime minister's press wing said.
The premier's motorcade drove away while the gate of Zia's office was kept under lock from inside.
TV channels and reporters crowded outside the office to cover the two leaders' meeting as Bangladesh's volatile politics exposed them to extreme hostility in recent weeks.
Ahead of Hasina's visit, Zia's close aide Shamsur Rahman Shumul Biswas hinted that she was unlikely to meet the premier as doctors sedated her since she was not feeling well.
Zia's youngest son Arafat Rahman Koko, 45, died in Malaysia after suffering a cardiac arrest in the afternoon.
"She broke all protocols. She came here as the prime minister, a leader and as a mother to console a mother who had lost her son," said Hasina's Information Affairs Adviser Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury.
"She waited in front of the gate for sometime. It's (behaviour of BNP) inhuman," he said, adding that none from the BNP greeted the prime minister.
The two leaders last met in 2009 when Zia visited Hasina after the death of Hasina's her husband Wazed Mia.
They, however, exchanged hot words over phone in 2013 when Zia rejected Hasina's invite to a dinner for talks ahead of the January 5, 2014 polls, eventually boycotted by BNP.
Hasina's decision to visit Zia came as the ex-premier's aides said that she fell ill at her Gulshan office after receiving Koko's death news.
"She (Zia) has kept herself behind closed doors in her first floor chamber in Gulshan (office)," a senior leader of her party and ex-army chief Mahbubur Rahman told newsmen.
He said Zia "has been crying and has not been taking any visitors ever since she heard the news this afternoon".
The death came as Zia is spearheading a massive anti-government campaign enforcing a violent nationwide blockade since January 6 demanding a fresh election.
Last time Zia met in Singapore in 2012. The whole family could not be together since 2007.