Telecoms Minister Abdul Latif Siddique, who is facing the axe over his anti-Hajj rant, has reportedly returned to New York from Mexico.
Government officials have been tightlipped on the matter, but several expatriate Bangladeshis confirmed bdnews24.com that they had seen Siddique going to the City's Queens area in a cab.
A 'Tangail Samiti' member said his arrival was not being publicised as various organisations of expatriates had been agitating against Siddique's remarks.
An expatriate Bangla-deshi said Siddique, accused in a number of cases at home for hurting religious sentiment, landed at John F Kennedy Airport on Friday morning local time.
No activists of the ruling Awami League turned up to greet him, neither any government vehicles were there to pick him.
He hired a cab and went to Queens, several expatriates said. When approached, Bangladesh's permanent UN envoy AKA Momen said he had no knowledge of Siddique's visit as he was not on the prime minister's entourage.
Bangladesh Consul General in New York Shamim Ahsan said the minister had flown to Mexico on Sept 29. "I was not officially told anything after that. I don't know if he had returned to New York."
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina went to the US last month to attend the 69th UN General Assembly. Siddique made a stop at New York on his way to Mexico to receive an award at an international summit on ICT.
There, at a programme on Sept 28, he said he was "firmly averse to" the Hajj and Tablig as well as Jamaat-e-Islami.
He became the target for bitter criticism after a video clip of his speech went viral on the social media.
Several political parties demanded his arrest.
Siddique, accompanied by State Minister for ICT Zunaid Ahmed Palak, went to Mexico's Guadalajara.
A media release from the ministry said Palak received the 'Global ICT Excellence Award' on behalf of the government.
Tangail Samiti chief Mizanur Rahman Apel said he knew nothing about Siddique returning to New York.
But a member of the organisation had something else to say.
"Latif Siddique has come to New York," said the man who was unwilling to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter. "His daughter lives in Canada but he's not going there for now."
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Friday confirmed that Siddique would be ejected from both the Cabinet and the Awami League.
"He'll have to resign if I order him to. Otherwise, he'll have to be sacked."
She said Siddique's exit would have to wait until President Md Abdul Hamid returned from the Hajj as it needed his approval.
Meanwhile, rumours are swirling in the US that Siddique was considering applying for political asylum there once he is officially sacked.
But no-one close to him could confirm it. ?bdnews24.com