Dhaka: The `battle of begums` in
Bangladesh intensified today with former premier and
opposition BNP leader Khaleda Zia slapping a `contempt of
court` petition against Sheikh Hasina`s government over her
eviction from her cantonment residence.
The case was filed with the apex appellate division of
the Supreme Court against the cabinet secretary and top
officials of defence and home ministries, the cantonment board
and the Inter Service Public Relations (ISPR) of the armed
forces, Court officials and Zia`s lawyers said.
The BNP has charged that the eviction came at a time
when Zia`s plea on the issue was pending before the apex court
"Chamber Judge of the Appellate Division Justice S K
Sinha accepted the petition and referred it for hearing on
November 29 along with her (Zia`s) pending leave to appeal
prayer seeking to retain the cantonment house," a Supreme
Court official said.
The development came as the cantonment residence issue
has become a focal point of politics in the country, with BNP
overnight calling for a second nationwide general strike on
November 30 after a week of protests against Zia`s "eviction".
The government has claimed that the eviction was led
by a legal obligation for compliance with a High Court order
that had validated a government decision to oust her from the
The opposition called the government action an act of
"disrespect" for the apex court as their leave to appeal
petition was pending there for hearing on November 29.
Hours after her eviction from the cantonment
residence, a teary-eyed Zia appeared before the media and said
she was humiliatingly forced to come out in single clothes
from the house, which she was allotted under a controversial
lease agreement 29 years ago after her husband president Ziaur
Rahman`s assassination in 1981.
After the eviction the main opposition party promised
to launch an all out campaign to oust the government of Prime
Minister Sheikh Hasina, Zia`s arch rival, and charged that the
ruling Awami League was trying to "eliminate BNP".
Several leading lawyers and experts said Zia`s lawyers
also contributed to the debacle as they did not seek an apex
court order for staying the High Court verdict while
approaching with the appeal petition.
Legal experts also simultaneously observed that the
government should have waited until November 29, when the
appeal hearing on the house was set to be held.