Sheikh Hasina returns home

By Xinhua

Dhaka : Bangladesh's former prime minister and Awami League President Sheikh Hasina arrived here Monday from London after the caretaker government lifted a ban on her returning home.

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Hasina who ruled the country from 1996-2001 arrived at Zia International Airport here by UAE (United Arab Emirates) – based Etihad Airways amidst tight security.

Since the state of emergency remains enforced banning all political activities in the country, Awami League, the main political party in Bangladesh, did not organize any official reception to greet her. Some senior leaders of the party received her at the airport.

Witnesses said local people were seen standing on two sides of the road from the airport to her residence in the capital Dhaka and waved hands welcoming her return.

Hundreds of riot police guarded the airport and the streets to ensure no welcoming procession will violate the emergency rules.

Hasina, 58, went to Washington March 15 on a private tour to meet her children and grandchildren. She was scheduled to return April 23, but stranded in London on way back to Dhaka due to a travel restrictions on her.

Chief Advisor Fakhruddin Ahmed's caretaker government had barred her entry in Bangladesh on the plea that the public safety, stability and national economy might be at stake if she returns.

The government had instructed all international airlines not to carry her to Dhaka.

Hasina, eldest daughter of Bangladesh's founding father and first President Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, was not issued boarding pass at London Heathrow Airport by the British Airways on April 23 in compliance with the Bangladesh authorities.

However, the caretaker government lifted the travel restriction on April 25.

Meanwhile two criminal charges of extortion of 30 million taka (about $430,000) and political murder have been filed against her while she was abroad. Although a magistrate court here had issued warrant of arrest against her, but later the same court suspended it.

Terming the cases false, Hasina alleged that the interim government is trying to politically victimize her.