The BNP is yet to react to the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the sentence of death passed on its National Standing Committee Member Salauddin Quader Chowdhury for 1971 war crimes.
The Appellate Division on Wednesday upheld Chowdhury and Jamaat-e-Islami Secretary General Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid’s death penalties by scrapping their petitions to review the verdicts.
For its part, the Jamaat, an ally of the BNP and a member of the 20-Party alliance, has already called a 24-hour strike for Thursday to protest the confirmation of the death penalty for Mujahid.
But the BNP is yet to say anything officially. Its leaders have declined to comment on the issue.
When approached, the party’s acting spokesperson, International Affairs Secretary Asaduzzaman Ripon told bdnews24.com: “The lawyers are handling the matter.”
“I haven’t received any statement on behalf of the party. I will let you know when I get anything.”
BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia is currently in London while acting Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir is in jail.
After the court on Wednesday dismissed Salauddin Quader Chowdhury’s review petition, his main counsel Khandker Mahbub Hossain told reporters, “We fought a legal battle. We have lost. That’s it. This is our reaction.”
A member of Khaleda’s Advisory Council, Hossain is also President of the Supreme Court Bar Association.
The BNP had refrained from making any comment when the International Crimes Tribunal sentenced Salauddin Quader to death on Oct 1, 2013 for his role in the mass killing and torture of Hindus and Awami League supporters during the Liberation War.
In similar manner, the party did not have any reaction when the Supreme Court upheld the sentence earlier this year after hearing his appeal against the tribunal’s judgment.
The BNP, however, has been questioning the standard of the war crimes trials.
On Wednesday morning, bdnews24.com reached out to three members of the party’s highest policymaking body, two vice-chairmen and two advisers of the chairperson after the verdicts were delivered.
None of them wanted to give any reaction, but they all suggested contacting the party headquarters.
However, a Standing Committee member, requesting anonymity, said, “The Supreme Court’s verdict has disappointed us. Salauddin Quader was an elected MP for a long time. He was elected MP six times.”
“He was denied justice today. This is cruel and painful,” said the leader.
Salauddin Quader Chowdhury, infamous as Chittagong’s wartime terror, had taken to politics through the Muslim League in post-1975 Bangladesh. Later, he joined the Jatiya Party and then the NDP.
At one point, he returned to the BNP and then went to become a member of the party’s National Standing Committee.
He was also an adviser on parliamentary affairs to Prime Minister Khaleda Zia during the regime of the BNP-led coalition government in 2001.
The politician has also headed such ministries as relief and rehabilitation, housing and public works and health and family welfare under Khaleda Zia and HM Ershad.
Security was beefed up around the Supreme Court and the BNP’s Naya Paltan headquarters since morning, ahead of the delivery of the verdicts.
The presence of party leaders and activists at the BNP office was very low compared to other days.