Hasina, Zia in new confrontation over airport project

    By IANS,

    Dhaka : A fresh political confrontation erupted in Bangladesh Tuesday with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government accusing opposition leader Khaleda Zia of inciting violence at Munshiganj near here where thousands of people are protesting plans to have a new international airport.

    One policeman died and over a hundred people, including newsmen, were injured in the day-long clashes Monday at the site, about 40 km from the national capital.

    Police filed a case against Zia Tuesday morning for instigating violence and the protests against the proposed Bangabandhu Airport in Arial Beel.

    The new allegation against Zia came amidst speculation that the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) that she leads may return to parliament, ending an eight month boycott.

    Abdul Matin, a public prosecutor and president of ruling Awami League’s Munshiganj town unit, filed the case with Judicial Magistrate’s court against 3,000 unknown people.

    Zia has been made the chief accused, Star Online, the website of The Daily Star, said.

    Zia was accused of making a “provocative speech” against the project at a forum here last Saturday.

    The BNP threatened a nationwide agitation giving a 24-hour ultimatum to withdraw the case.

    The government had abruptly changed location of the proposed airport, the report said.

    The government’s plan to construct the airport in low lying Arial Beel, instead of a much superior place in Trishal, “was taken without any pre-feasibility study, and out of personal whims of some officials”, the daily said.