Unlike previous years, BNP yesterday celebrated its chairperson Khaleda Zia’s 71st birthday through holding a doa mahfil instead of cutting any cake. Several hundred party leaders and activists, led by party secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, joined the programme at BNP’s Nayapaltan central office.
A munajat was offered seeking divine blessings for Khaleda’s long and healthy life, and seeking salvation of the departed souls of party founder Ziaur Rahman and his younger son Arafat Rahman Koko. They also prayed for peace and progress of the country with the ‘restoration’ of democracy. Talking to reporters after the programme, Fakhrul said Khaleda Zia has cancelled the programmes to celebrate her birthday this year. “She’s thought itis unwise to celebrate her birthday under the current socio-political situation and sufferings of flood victims.”
Awami League general secretary Obaidul Quader thanked BNP leaders for not celebrating the birthday of Khaleda Zia in a festive mood on National Mourning Day observed in commemoration of the assassinations of the country’s founding president Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and most of his family members on this day in 1975.
Several hundred BNP leaders and activists joined the prayer session at the party’s central office at Naya Paltan in the Dhaka city.
During the prayer session, BNP’s senior joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi said that Khaleda Zia played a crucial and decisive role in establishing people’s rights, including the freedom of expression.
He said, ‘She never left people, but stood by them during their sorrows and woes. She served jail sentence for two years after an unfair trial, but she never compromised on democracy. May Allah grant her a long life.’
Rizvi claimed that though the party chairperson was an innocent person, she was convicted in vexatious cases out of political vengeance. ‘She has repeatedly risked her life to establish democracy. She is now out of jail, but not completely free.’
Khaleda and her party used to observe August 15 as her birthday since 1991, but there are controversies about her actual date of birth and even the year of birth.
Amid criticisms by Awami League leaders for celebrating her birthday on National Mourning Day, BNP marked Khaleda’s 72nd to 75th birthdays through holding prayer sessions instead of cutting cakes.
As in previous four years, the party did not cut any cake to celebrate its chairperson’s birthday in the early hours of Saturday.
‘We do not have taken any programme to celebrate our chairperson’s birthday under the current situation of the country. We are not celebrating it for the last few years with any programme as per Madam’s (Khaleda) directives. We only pray for her wellbeing on the day,’ BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir told the United News of Bangladesh.
Asked whether they stopped celebrating the birthday on National Mourning Day to avoid criticisms, he parried the question, saying that Khaleda did not want to celebrate her birthday under the current situation of the country.
Khaleda was sent to Old Dhaka Central Jail since her conviction in Zia Orphanage Trust graft case by a lower court on February 8, 2018.
On March 25 last, the BNP chairperson was released from jail for six months upon an executive order considering her age and humanitarian ground following an application by her family. The six-month tenure of the order will end on September 24.