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PM wants Priya to make public statement about her allegation: Quader

Published : Monday, 22 July, 2019 at 12:00 AM  Count : 879

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has directed officials not to take immediate action against Priya Saha who made an allegation to US President Donald Trump claiming that 37 million minority people have disappeared from Bangladesh.
"The Prime Minister last night (Saturday) sent me a message (from UK) saying no legal action is required to be initiated hastily," ruling Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader, also the Road Transport and Bridges Minister told newsmen at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre (BICC) after a programme on Sunday.
Quader on Saturday told a press conference that Priya's allegation was seditious and the process is on to take action against her.
However, Sheikh Hasina said Priya Saha should make a public statement regarding her allegation and she should be given the scope to defend herself. Before that no case can be filed or legal process initiated against Priya as per the Prime Minister's order, Quader said.
Priya claimed that 37 million Hindus, Buddhists and Christians had disappeared from Bangladesh and that her home was torched and her land was grabbed by Muslim fundamentalists.
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.
"The reasons for making such allegations should be investigated. I think, she should be given a chance to defend herself when she returns home."
Quader also said there is no obstruction to Priya Saha's return to Bangladesh.
"The government will hear what she has to say first and then it'll take necessary action," he said.
"To us, it (her statement) seemed intentional. She'll be inquired about her motives behind that statement," he added.
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. He said he also conveyed the message of the Prime Minister to Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan to take measures to protect the house and property of Priya Saha.
The AL General Secretary on Sunday morning sat with the US Ambassador in Dhaka. Quader said, 'The US envoy listened to me and I conveyed the statement of the Prime Minister to him."
"I think the US ambassador was very satisfied and he was very happy with our statement," Quader said.
The Minister said he had talked with Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council (HBCUC) leader Rana Das Gupta who said that the statement of Priya has no relation with the Council.
He said Priya has the right to return home and we are not creating any obstruction or initiating any legal procedure.
Quader said there is no need to take step to make arrangement for her return to Bangladesh.
He said Priya's statement was ill-motivated, provocative, false and fictitious. We will ask what her motive was behind such statement.
The Minister said the government is not clear yet about who are working behind the scene.
Asked for comments about the sedition cases filed by the two lawyers, Quader said the law of the country debarred anyone from filing any sedition case without the permission of the government and the Law Minister was expected to take necessary steps in that regard.
The court later rejected the two sedition cases.
Law Minister Anisul Huq, 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 'seditious offence,' but it is up to judiciary and judges to decide," he told newsmen on the sidelines of the opening ceremony of a judges training programme.
 "If you go through history, you would find that a 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 a matter of investigation.
The government, however, responded immediately with a Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement calling Saha's comments "blatant lies" as she made a complaint 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.

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