Senior Correspondent, bdnews24.com
Published: 2019-03-10 12:17:16 BdST
Dhaka old central jail official Mahbubul Islam told bdnews24.com at 11:45 am on Sunday: “She has refused. She will not go.”
Khaleda has been imprisoned at the old central jail in Old Dhaka since February 2018. She has received 17 years in prison over the Zia Orphanage Trust and Zia Charitable Trust graft cases. She is the only inmate at the prison.
The BNP chief was previously brought to BSMMU on Oct 7 for treatment at the recommendation of her medical board. She was at the hospital for about a month before being taken back to prison.
The 74-year-old BNP chief is suffering from arthritis and several other medical problems.
She has had to sit in a wheelchair to attend the hearings in various cases against her. She was also seen in a wheelchair when taken from jail to the hospital last year.
BNP leaders have alleged that their chief is not receiving proper care in prison and that her health has ‘greatly deteriorated’.
A BNP delegation went to the Secretariat to speak with the home minister last Tuesday to demand that she be transferred to Dhaka’s United Hospital for treatment.
After the meeting, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said the medical board had gone to the prison on Feb 24 to conduct some tests on Khaleda Zia. He said that the BNP chief would be taken to BSMMU for tests ‘soon’ based on their recommendations for further tests.
The prison and BSMMU began preparing for the BNP chief to be transferred from the prison. Fire service vehicles, ambulances and law enforcement vehicles were seen outside the prison gates.
Cabins 621 and 622 were cleaned on Sunday morning in preparation for the arrival of the former prime minister. A number of police personnel were deployed in front of the cabin block.
Two members of the medical board formed under instructions from the court to oversee Khaleda Zia’s care arrived at 9:45 am on the sixth floor of the Cabin Block to inspect the rooms, said BSMMU Hospital Director Brig Gen Abdullah-Al-Harun.
Asked when the BNP chief might be brought to the hospital, he told bdnews24.com:
“We are taking preparations, but I have not been informed about the exact time yet.”
About 15 minutes later a Lalbag Division police official at the prison told bdnews24.com:
“Preparations are being made to take her to Bangabandhu Medical, but she hasn’t woken up yet. She may not be taken to the hospital if she refuses to go.”
Reporters crowded the prison and the BSMMU area in preparation for her move. BNP activists also gathered at BSMMU.
At one point there were reports that Khaleda Zia may be transferred around 11 am. Later another report stated she might be transferred at 12pm.
But around 11:45 am jailer Mahbubul Islam said that Khaleda Zia had refused to go to the hospital.
BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir told reporters on Mar 5 after speaking to the BNP chief at a case hearing:
“For the first time she said ‘I am sick, and am suffering’.”
Asked why the BNP chief was refusing to go to the hospital, Mahbubul Islam said: “She says she is unable to go. We can’t do anything about it.”
But a top official at the prison said: “The BNP chairperson does not like Bangabandhu Medical. She wants to be taken to a specialised hospital.”