'Missing' Bangladesh Leader Found in Shillong, Wants Political Asylum
Salahuddin Ahmed; a picture from earlier days copy
NEW DELHI: After the mysterious appearance of Bangladesh’s Opposition spokesman in Shillong on Monday, Salahuddin Ahmed, ‘wanted’ in Bangladesh may now seek political asylum in India.
An air of suspicion and uncertainty continues to surround his sudden surfacing in Meghalaya on Monday with growing speculations that he sneaked into the Indian state with help from the locals, in a desperate attempt to save his life.
However, Ahmed who was missing from Bangladesh since March 10 , maintained that he was “abducted” from his country and was unaware of how he landed in India.
Ayub Ali from Kolkata, who claims to be the cousin of Ahmed also gave the same version that the BNP leader and former Minister was in the custody of some unidentified persons for 62 days and the abductors shifted him in different vehicles finally landing up near Golf course, Shillong blindfolded.
Even Ahmed’s wife Hasina Ahmed was quoted as saying that her husband was picked up by detective police personnel from a house at Uttara on the night of March 10. While speaking to the media at Dhaka, she further said that Ahmed was picked up from a hideout in the northern suburb of Dhaka by a member of the country’s elite security force. But police and the government always denied he was in their custody.
On the other hand, the police has serious doubts about the kidnapping angle, as is claimed by the BNP leader. “We cannot confirm the kidnapping theory as we have not interrogated him thoroughly since he is a heart patient,” East Khasi Hills SP M. Kharkrang said.
However, two personnel from Special Branch of Meghalaya police quizzed him for two hours at the hospital on Thursday, but they could not gather anything new as the politician maintained whatever he had already told the media.
It is interesting to note that during the times Ahmed was missing, he had been issuing some hard-hitting anti-government statements from the hideout, urging people to join the months-long transport blockade – called by BNP leader Khaleda Zia, which is aimed at toppling the government.
The former Minister and General Secretary of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) was arrested by the Meghalaya police on Monday after residents of the Pynthorumkhrah locality in Shillong noticed him wandering “aimlessly” and “suspiciously” through the locality, and alerted the Pasteur Beat House.
Ahmed was arrested for entering India without valid documents while he claimed that he was abducted in Bangladesh by some unidentified persons and later dumped in Shillong blindfolded.
East Khasi Hills Superintendent of Police M. Kharkrang informed the media that some people had spotted an individual who was allegedly "hanging around aimlessly" in the Golf Link area (around Shillong Golf Course) around 5.30am on Monday. On receiving the information, a police patrol party picked him up and brought him to Pasteur police beat house near Polo.
Following his arrest, Ahmed was taken to the Shillong Civil Hospital for a medical check-up and then brought back to the beat house. He was then taken to the Meghalaya Institute of Mental Health and Neurological Sciences (MIMHANS) since he was unable to give any satisfactory reply to the questions asked by the police and was not speaking coherently.
All that he managed to tell the police was that he was a BNP leader, Salahuddin Ahmed.
Ahmed stayed at MIMHANS on Monday where he was declared to be mentally fit while only suffering from heart disease and ailments related to his kidney. Later, on Tuesday he was taken again to Shillong Civil Hospital for further treatment.
While he was being taken to the Civil Hospital, Ahmed told the media that "I am BNP leader Salahuddin Ahmed. I was kidnapped in Bangladesh and do not know how I landed in India."
However, he was not allowed to talk further as the police covered his face and lodged him at the room meant for the Under Trial Prisoners in the hospital.
SP Kharkrang informed that a case had been registered against Ahmed under the Foreigners Act since he did not have passport, visa or other valid documents, but could not interrogate him as he was still in hospital.
"We have not been able to talk to him much but officials from the police headquarters have taken up the case with the Bangladesh embassy to ascertain Ahmed's identity as he had claimed to be a former MP in Bangladesh." A Meghalaya police official also said that the Union home affairs ministry has been informed too.
Ahmed’s surprise appearance in Shillong has created a stir in Bangladesh as it was being largely believed that in the ongoing political skullduggery between ruling Awami League and Opposition BNP, Ahmed was in fact liquidated by Government agencies.