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Sheikh Hasina stopped from returning to Bangladesh
H S Rao in London | April 23, 2007 08:43 IST
Amid high drama, former Bangladesh prime minister Sheikh Hasina was, on Sunday, stopped by the British government from returning to her country in the wake of the ban imposed on her comeback by the military-backed interim authorities in Dhaka.
The British Airways flight that was to take her to Dhaka declined to issue her a boarding pass despite her having a valid ticket on the ground that Bangladesh government has banned her from entering the territory of that country.
Hasina reached Heathrow Airport about 90 minutes before the scheduled departure of the British Airways flight leaving for Dhaka at 1525 hrs.
But as she went to collect her boarding pass, she was taken to a special chamber where an officer of the airlines told her that she was not allowed to go back to Bangladesh.
The officer told her 'our government has information that you are banned from going to Bangladesh' and showed her a letter to that effect.
After nearly 45 minutes, Hasina, chief of Awami League party, was escorted out of the airport by gun-wielding police officers.
After coming out of the airport, an angry Hasina vowed to go back to Bangladesh and said, "I have every right to go back because they (Bangladesh government) has filed cases against me and I have the right to face the charges. They can't stop me from going back."
"They have no right to stop me. I will fight," she added.
She said the Bangladesh government had threatened to deny landing permission to the plane carrying her back to Dhaka.
Asked what she planned to do, she said, "I want to go back and I have every right to go back. Bangladesh is my country, they (the interim government) have no right to stop me. Let us see, what I will have to do. At the moment I am here. I will fight."
Hasina said the interim government in Bangladesh had foisted two charges of murder and extortions against her and she wanted to go back and challenge those charges in the court of law.
Scores of Awami League supporters, who had gathered at the airport, raised pro-Hasina slogans.
BA's refusal to let Hasina board the Dhaka-bound flight came after the Bangladesh vernment banned her return saying her 'inflammatory' speechs could disturb the situation in the country.
Hasina was holidaying in the US with her daughter but cut short her visit there and arrived in London on Thursday for a brief halt before proceeding to Dhaka.
Lord Avebury, vice chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights Affairs, wondered how could the British Airways deny her a boarding pass when she had a valid ticket and passport.
"I don't know why British Airways took part in the proceeding. The question is what remedy she has when her government has refused her entry to her own country? She will have to take legal opinion," he said.
In Dhaka, a Metropolitan Magistrate Court issued warrants on Sunday against Hasina and her top aide Mohd Nasim and Abdul Malik, a low-profile leader of Awami League in connection with a case filed by Jamaat-i-Islami.