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Sedition cases against Priya Saha dismissed

PM disapproves legal steps now

Published : Monday, 22 July, 2019 at 12:00 AM  Count : 1154

Four sedition cases filed against Preo Bala Biswas alias Priya Saha, for her comments "against the state" during a meeting with the US President Donald Trump, have been rejected by the courts hours after filing of those on Sunday.
Barrister Syed Sayedul Haque Suman and Adv Ibrahim Khalil filed the cases with separate magistrate courts on Sunday morning which were dismissed in the afternoon as it requires permission from the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina disapproved a planned government initiative to expose Priya Saha to sedition charges ahead of obtaining her explanation about her comments during an interaction with US president Donald Trump, Road Transport Minister Obaidul Quader said on Sunday.
"The Prime Minister last night sent me a message (from UK) saying no legal action was required to be initiated hastily," Quader, also the General Secretary of ruling Awami League, told a media briefing at the party's Dhanmondi office.
But he said Saha must make a public statement explaining what actually she wanted to tell Trump.
Meanwhile, Khulna Zila Awami League General Secretary Md Kamruzzaman Jamal and Modon Kumar Saha moved the local court seeking permission to file sedition cases against Priya.
Khulna Metropolitan Magistrate Md Amirul Islam listened to them and said the sedition complaints have been kept for hearing as it needs permission from the Home Ministry.
Obaidul Quader said Liberation War Affairs Minister AKM Mozammel Haque was set to lodge a sedition case against Saha but he already conveyed him the Prime Minister's message and talked to Law Minister Anisul Huq and Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal as well in this regard.
Quader's comments came a day after he said a process was underway to try Priya Saha on sedition charges as her allegation was "absolutely false."
The government, however, responded immediately with a Foreign Ministry statement calling Saha's comments "blatant lies" as she made a complain to Trump claiming minority communities in Bangladesh were being persecuted.
The Foreign Ministry suspected that she was led by an "ulterior motive" while the Home Minister said 'we will certainly ask her (about the remarks) when she returns' from the United States.
On Saturday, Quader also said that as a Bangladeshi national, she made 'false, purposeful and treasonous remarks'.
Asked for comments about the cases filed in different courts, Quader said the law of the country debarred anyone from filing of any sedition case without government permission and the Law Minister was expected to take required steps in that regard.
The Law Minister, meanwhile, said Saha made utterly false allegation to gratify her personal desires and she should be ignored but "I think we should not give so much importance to this Priya Saha".
"We should highlight the truth and ignore her. I think it is not right to term such small matters as 'seditious offence', but it is up to judiciary and judges to decide," he told journalists on the sidelines of the opening ceremony of a judges training programme.
He said it was not the Hindu community members alone, 'all the people say that we all live amid communal harmony in Bangladesh.'
"If you go through history, you would find that least number of communal riots took place in Bangladesh," he said.
When asked about chances of any group's backing behind such blatant lies against the country, the Law Minister said it was not an impossible proposition but it was matter of investigation.
An organising secretary of the Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council (HBCUC), Saha attended a meeting at the White House in Washington DC recently and a video of the meeting with Trump subsequently went viral on social media and sparked widespread controversy back home.
She was among five Bangladeshis and two Rohingya refugees the US Embassy in Dhaka sent to the White House while she also attended a ministerial meeting on advancing religious freedom hosted by the US Department of State in the US capital.
In the video Saha was seen identifying herself as a Bangladeshi and telling Trump that 37 million people of minority groups disappeared from Bangladesh.
HBCUC, meanwhile, tended to disown Saha's comments with one of its senior leaders saying the comments she made were of her own and she did not represent the Council in the meeting with the US President.
"We are embarrassed . . . the comments she made were her own and not ours," HBCUC spokesman Kajal Debnath told the national news agency BSS.
Debnath added that he believed the remarks she made in her interactions 'with the president of a foreign country in a foreign land is unethical and unexpected.'
But he said compared to previous governments of Bangladesh, the incumbent Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was "much more minority-friendly, and we (minorities) want to live here amid harmony".

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