After more than three years of trial, a lower court in Meghalaya acquitted former Bangladesh minister and Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) leader Salahuddin Ahmed of trespassing charges in a judgment passed on Friday.
“I am very happy with the court verdict and I have been eagerly waiting to make my presence in my country (Bangladesh),” Ahmed said after the court verdict.
The verdict that acquitted Ahmed was passed by the court of judicial magistrate (first class), D G Kharshiing.
The court directed the authorities to deport the former MP of Bangladesh to his country immediately.
Ahmed, who had served as communications minister in the BNP government led by former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia from 2001 to 2006, was charged of landing three years ago in Shillong illegally.
Ahmed was facing charges under Section 14 of the Foreigners Act, 1946 for surfacing in Shillong without valid documents on May 11, 2015. He was arrested by the Meghalaya police on May 12, 2015.
It may be mentioned that on May 11, 2015, the BNP leader (Salahuddin Ahmed) was spotted in Golf Link area in Shillong around 5.30 am. Police said that people informed them that an individual was “suspiciously and aimlessly” moving in the area. That time, Ahmed was first taken to the Meghalaya Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (MIMHANS), Lawmali here after the Meghalaya police found him not speaking comprehensibly, when they questioned him.
But at MIMHANS, Ahmed was found to be mentally sound, and referred him to Shillong Civil Hospital for treatment.
The former Bangladesh parliamentarian was out on bail since June 5, 2015.
On Friday, Ahmed reiterated that he was kidnapped by plain cloth people in Bangladesh in 2015 who claimed themselves to be from the law enforcing agencies and he did not know he landed in Shillong as he was blind folded.
Ahmed was one among the numerous BNP leaders to have disappeared during the political turmoil in Bangladesh in 2015.
“I have not crossed the border voluntarily. I was brought here blinded folded. Before kidnapping me they identified themselves as law enforcing personnel. I was kidnapped from my friend’s house. It was a state-sponsored terrorism which is going on there in my country,” Ahmed alleged.
Asked if he anticipated of facing action once he reached Bangladesh, Ahmed said, “surely, because numerous cases have been filed against various political leaders from the opposition.”
Asked if he is scared as there might be a threat to his life in Bangladesh, Ahmed said, “This is our part of life there, because democracy is not functioning properly. They (ruling party) have filed so many cases against leaders from the opposition parties. They are filing cases against us but all charges are false. Even against a dead man they have filed cases. So we don’t care as we have to face it.”
Ahmed thanked the Indian governments both state and Central for “taking care of him” and cooperating.
Ahmed also said that he has no plan to apply for political asylum as he wanted to go back to his country.
The return of Ahmed to his country also came at a time when Bangladesh is holding its parliamentary elections in December.
Ahmed, who is also the member of the BNP’s National Standing Committee, the highest decision making committee of party, exuded confidence that the opposition parties would bounce back to power if the upcoming parliamentary elections are held according to the conditions set by the Opposition.
An alliance of Opposition parties led by former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia had set certain tough pre-conditions for taking part in the national elections.
The BNP-led alliance demanded that Khaleda Zia and party activists be set free, withdrawal of politically motivated cases, dissolution of current parliament, reformation of the Election Commission, deployment of military during polls with magistracy power and holding elections under a neutral non-partisan government.
“We hope that free and fair elections will be held in Bangladesh. We shall put pressure on the government and compel them to accept our demands,” he said.
Asked if he would join the electoral battle, Ahmed said, “If my repatriation is made timely, there is a chance that I can take part in the national election.”