Millennium Post

Body of Zia’s son arrives in B’desh amid turmoil

The body of Bangladesh opposition leader Khaleda Zia’s self-exiled son, who died in Malaysia last week, arrived here on Tuesday amid an escalation of political turmoil that claimed two more lives to take the death toll in the anti-government protests to 37.

Senior leaders of former premier Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) received the body of Arafat Rahman Koko who died on Saturday following a cardiac arrest. Koko’s wife and two daughters arrived with the body on board a Malaysian Airlines flight from Kuala Lumpur. Koko’s body was driven straight to her mother’s Gulshan office from where she is spearheading a fierce campaign against Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government. A large crowd had gathered in front of Zia’s office awaiting the body. The BNP has enforced a nationwide blockade which entered its 22nd day today.

Sporadic violence was reported and two more people died overnight to take the death toll in the violence to 37 with nearly half of them killed in arson attacks on buses and other public transport vehicles.

The latest victims were truck drivers who succumbed to their burn wounds early this morning at two state-run hospitals in the capital and northwestern Rangpur, days after arsonists attacked their vehicles with petrol bombs.

At least 37 people have been killed in violence during anti-government protests that took place following BNP’s call for a nationwide non-stop blockade from January 6 after authorities barred its chief Zia from joining a protest rally to mark the first anniversary of the last year’s divisive January 5 polls.

Ruling Awami League said their leaders would take part in Koko’s “namaz-e-janaza” or the funeral prayers. Senior BNP leaders, on condition of anonymity, said they plan to request Zia to invite Hasina to attend Koko’s ‘Qulkhwani’ -- the Quran recitation and prayers for the deceased -- later this week. Political divisions have sharply increased as manifested in the controversy that emerged last week when Hasina, who had gone to offer condolences on the sudden death of Zia’s youngest son, was turned away from the gates of her arch-rival, in an apparent snub.

“We will request madam (Zia) to invite the PM (Hasina) to attend the Qulkhwani but the decision will be taken by her,” a BNP leader was quoted as saying by the Dhaka Tribune. 


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