Dhaka: Former Foreign Secretary and a top
leader of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party has been remanded
to custody on charges of assaulting police during yesterday`s
countrywide opposition shutdown.
Former foreign secretary and currently the Vice
Chairperson of BNP, Shamsher Mobin Chowdhury, was picked up
along with several party activists yesterday.
Police and court officials said Magistrate Roksana
Begum ordered a one-day remand for Chowdhury, along with six
other BNP activists, against a police prayer for seven days.
He was earlier escorted to the downtown court complex
under heavy security escorts.
"He tried to strangulate a police officer, obstruct
police from discharging duties and instigated violence during
the stoppage," a government prosecutor told the court seeking
the remand for the top foreign ministry diplomat.
Police yesterday said they arrested 167 BNP leaders
and activists, including former mayor of Dhaka Mirza Abbas, on
charges of instigating violence but Chowdhury was not named in
the list of arrested people with a police spokesman saying he
was just "detained".
"He (Chowdhury) is a former ambassador and top
diplomat of the foreign ministry, he is a 1971 Liberation War
veteran who had lost a leg in the war... how can a man of his
stature can attack police or lead the street violence," a
lawyer told the court defending Chowdhury.
Police and the elite anti-crime Rapid Action Battalion
(RAB) forces patrolled Dhaka streets yesterday as the city
witnessed scuffles between the activists and police, and the
ruling Awami League`s student wing activists in some places.
The other arrested party leaders included Begum
Khalida Zia`s advisers M A Mannan and Ahmed Azam Khan and
Shaheed Uddin Chowdhury Anny.
BNP chief Zia last month called the shutdown to
protest the government "failures" in delivering utility
services and on other counts.
BNP`s crucial ally in the past four-party coalition
government, Jamaat-e-Islami, and several other rightwing
parties also extended their support for the shutdown, the
first during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina`s past one half year