Missing Bangladesh Opposition Leader Arrested in Shillong

Missing Bangladesh Opposition Leader Arrested in Shillong

A senior leader of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party has been arrested in Shillong and admitted to hospital. He was not carrying a passport and could not recollect how he had reached Shillong from Bangladesh but he claimed he had been kidnapped from Dhaka two months ago. He also telephoned his wife in Dhaka today who in turn held a press conference stating that her husband, missing since March 10, had been found.

The Bangladeshi leader Salahuddin Ahmed, who is in his mid-fifties, is the joint secretary of Bangladesh National Party or BNP and a former lawmaker. He was spotted loitering near the Golf Links in Shillong at around 5:30 yesterday morning. Locals informed the police who arrested him. He was in a physically disheveled condition and when he told the police he was a BNP official and former lawmaker, police thought he was mentally disoriented and admitted him to Nimhans, a hospital which treats mentally challenged people.

Today, after Ahmed phoned his wife in Dhaka, Nimhans authorities informed the police of his identity. Ahmed has since been shifted from the Nimhans hospital to Civil Hospital but remains in police custody.

"We are still trying to find out how he entered India without a passport. He claims he doesn't know and that he had been kidnapped two months ago from Dhaka," said Mr H Kharkharan, superintendent of police, Shillong.

Ahmed was missing from Dhaka from March 10. The BNP had claimed Ahmed had been arrested on the orders of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina which the government denied. But even yesterday, BNP supremo Begum Khaleda Zia had issued a statement saying the prime minister must explain Ahmed's disappearance. She also said Ahmed's wife had tried to meet Sheikh Hasina twice in the last two months but failed.

Today, the BNP joint secretary's wife, Hasina Ahmed, called a press conference in Dhaka and said Ahmed had called her from Shillong hospital. "My husband told me that he is alright and we are trying to reach him as soon as possible. We seek cooperation from all," she said at her Gulshan home.

Ahmed, a former Cox's Bazar lawmaker and state minister, had served as an assistant private secretary to Begum Zia during her 1991-96 tenure when he was a junior civil servant. He functioned as BNP's spokesperson after the arrests of acting Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir and Joint Secretary General Ruhul Kabir Ahmed Rizvi.


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