Dhaka, Feb 08: Though she had been confined to her residence several times and sent to jail once during the anti-Ershad movement and another time by the army-backed interim government after the 1/11 changeover for political reasons, BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia was sent to jail for the first time on Thursday as a convict. Khaleda, a 73-year-old a former prime minister, was taken to the old central jail at Nazimuddin Road in the city after a special court sentenced her to five years’ imprisonment in the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case, reports UNB.
After Jatiya Party Chairman HM Ershad, Khaleda is the second head of the government who got convicted in a graft case.
Born in 1945, Khaleda got married Ziaur Rahman in 1960 when he was an army captain. They got two sons — Tarique Rahman, now in London, and Arafat Rahman Koko who died in 2015.
After the assassination of her husband President Ziaur Rahman in 1981 in a military coup, a then-housewife Khaleda Zia stepped into politics in March 1983 and became BNP senior vice chairman following the demand of party leaders and activists.
Later, she was elected party chairperson at a party council in 1984. Since then, she has been serving as the party chairperson.
Khaleda had played a significant role during the anti-Ershad movement in 1990.
She was first arrested on November 28, 1983, followed May 3, 1984 and 11 November, 1987 during the anti-Ershad movement and kept confined to her then cantonment residence.
The BNP chief was last arrested on September 3, 2007 during the military-backed interim government and taken to a sub-jail in the parliament complex.
She was released after suffering in jail for one year and seven days on September 11, 2008 following the bail from the apex court.
The Zia Orphanage Trust graft case was filed after her arrest in 2008.
Khaleda became the country’s first female prime minister following the victory of BNP in the 1991 general election. She also served as prime minister for a short-lived government in 1996. In the next round of general election of 1996, the Awami League came to power.
Khaleda again became prime minister when her party returned to power in 2001.
After her government’s term ended in 2006, the scheduled January 2007 elections were delayed due to political violence and infighting, resulting in a bloodless military takeover of the caretaker government.
During its interim rule, it charged Zia and her two sons –Tarique and Koko — with corruption.
Khaleda was thrown out of power after her party’s defeat in the 2008 general election arranged by the caretaker government. She, however, never get defeated in any election as a candidate. She also got elected from five seats thrice in the general elections.
She had to leave her cantonment residence, given by then government after the murder of Zia, in 2019 as she lost the legal battle in the court.
After a number of movements during a period of severe political unrest between 2012 and 2014 to prevent ruling Awami League from holding the 10th general election in January 2014 without a neutral caretaker government, the Khaleda-led BNP and its alliances boycotted the election.
Khaleda was reportedly confided to her Gulshan residence for a few days before the election.
The BNP chief was again confined to her Gulshan office on January 3, 2015 a day before her party-led 20-party’s much-hyped January-5 rally in the city to mark what she said ‘Democracy Killing Day’ to protest the 10th parliamentary polls.
Her son Koko died of heart attack in Malaysia on January 24, 2015 when she was confined to her office. Her elder son Tarique, also the party second in command, has been staying in the UK since September, 2008.
Ninety-two days after her stay in her Gulshan office, Khaleda returned to her Gulshan residence on April 5, 2015. Her party carried out a violent movement over the three months and severely criticized for arson attacks on public vehicles that claimed a number of lives and left many people injured. BNP, however, denied its involvement in such attacks.
Party sources said she is still facing around 36 cases filed with different courts and police stations across the country for corruption and violence.