Shillong, Oct 26 (IANS) A lower court in Meghalaya on Friday acquitted former Bangladesh Minister Salahuddin Ahmed who was arrested three years ago for trespassing into India.
Pronouncing the verdict, the court of the first class judicial magistrate D.G. Kharshiing directed Meghalaya’s district police chief of East Khasi Hills, Davies Marak, to take necessary steps for his immediate repatriation.
“He (Ahmed) is found to be innocent and the court has acquitted him honourably. The court has also directed the police to take necessary steps for his immediate repatriation,” Ahmed’s legal counsel, S.P.Mahanta, told IANS.
Ahmed, the Communications Minister during the government of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) leader Khaleda Zia from 2001-06, was arrested on May 1, 2015 from Golflink area here in Meghalaya after people alerted the authorities about his movement in the area.
Meghalaya Police have registered a case against him under the Foreigners Act on charges of illegally entering India after he failed to produce his travel documents. He also did not have any papers to prove his identity and citizenship.
“I am eagerly waiting to return to my Country (Bangladesh). I am ready to face political challenges in Bangladesh and the opposition BNP will fight to tooth and nail to restore true democracy in Bangladesh, an elated Ahmed told IANS after the court’s verdict.
Ahmed, who is also the member of the National Standing Committee, the highest decision-making committee of the BNP, also thanked the Indian government and the Meghalaya government for “all cooperation that they have provided to him”.
Ahmed’s family had alleged that some men in plainclothes flashing identity cards of the Bangladesh Police Detective Branch picked him from a house in Dhaka on the night of March 10, 2015.
“I have not crossed the international (India-Bangladesh) border voluntarily. I was blindfolded and dumped in this place (Shillong). The court judgment has also proved that I am innocent,” he said.
Asked if he would contest the 11th national election to elect new members to the Bangladesh parliament, which is scheduled to be held this December, Ahmed said, “If they repatriate me immediately, there is a chance to contest the elections. However, I do not know what happens to me once I am in Bangladesh but I am ready to face it legally.”
Ahmed, who has been in touch with his party members, said that the BNP and its allies are hopeful of returning to power if the pre-conditions set by his party for taking part in the national polls are met.
The conditions include freeing of Khaleda Zia and party activists, withdrawal of politically motivated cases, dissolution of the current parliament, reconstituting the Election Commission and deployment of military during election period. Besides, the elections should be conducted under a neutral non-partisan government, he said.
“We are hopeful that neighbouring countries will play an important role to ensure free, fair and democratic elections,” the BNP leader said.