Khaleda launches Shafik Rehman’s booksStaff Correspondent
The Bangladesh Nationalist Party chairperson, Khaleda Zia, on Saturday launched seven books authored by journalist Shafik Rehman, which the party leaders called an occasion that unmasked the government.
Khaleda on March 27 had failed to launch the books as the Ruposhi Bangla Hotel authorities had expressed their inability to host the programme because of ‘instructions from intelligence agencies’.
BNP activists started crowding the premises of National Press Club, where the seven books were launched, before Khaleda arrived there.
She launched ‘Chattagram Pologround Lunthan’, ‘Neri Kukurer Kanna’ and ‘Neri Kukurer Kirti’ by Shafik Rehman and four other titles edited by him — ‘Democratic Leader Khaleda Zia’, ‘Statesman Ziaur Rahman’, ‘Rashtranayak Zia’ and ‘Sangrami Netri Khaleda Zia’.
Khaleda did not address the programme.
She posed for photographers holding each of the books at the progamme organised by BNP-leaning think tank, G9. Shafik Rehman also presented Khaleda with a red rose.
Speaking in the programme, Shafik Rehman defended the ‘unparliamentary’ words used by two women lawmakers of BNP in the house recently, saying the ruling party’s ‘frightened reaction’ to their criticism had proved the necessity of such bashing.
‘But we would not encourage anyone to speak in that way. In politics one should be polite [when criticising others] and write the truth in polite language… I hope the [possible] replies to my books would come up in decent language,’ he said.
Shafik said many would say that he has lost neutrality by writing for a particular party or individuals. ‘But nobody is neutral but infants, insane and opportunists. Knowing that I would be criticised, I have written these books ... to establish truth,’ he said quoting German poet Dante, ‘The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in a time of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality.’
Shafik also requested the audience to buy the books ‘Our ability is limited. We did not get money from ISI or Pakistan at the mercy of Durrani. And it is absurd that Indian RAW would give us money,’ he quipped.
He also criticised prime minister Sheikh Hasina and her party leaders for their allegations that BNP had taken money from ISI. ‘They seem to have forgotten that the Economist magazine had reported that they had received bagfuls of money from India. The prime minister has advised the opposition leader to go to Pakistan… I would rather request the prime minister to go to India or America as she has experience of staying there for long.’
The acting BNP secretary general, Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said the progamme had turned into a protest rally against the government’s move to curb freedom of expression. ‘It has become a ceremony of unmasking the government,’ he said.
Referring to a clarification from the gover nment that the book launch at Ruposhi Bangla hotel was cancelled on March 27 as foreign guests were in town, Shafik said, ‘The government did not want the books to reach foreigners because the books would inform them about the lies the government has resorted to over declaration of independence and war of independence.’
Political scientist Talukder Maniruzzman, BNP standing committee member Tariqul Islam and G9 secretary Asaduzzman also spoke at the programme chaired by G9 president Saiful Islam.
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