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Khaleda Zia calls off meeting with Mukherjee

Sunday March 03, 2013 08:35:50 PM, Ranjana Narayan, IANS

Dhaka: Bangladesh opposition leader and former prime minister Khaleda Zia has cancelled her meeting with visiting Indian President Pranab Mukherjee citing security concerns amid a strike called by a former party ally, Jamaat-e-Islami.

Zia, who had called on Mukherjee when she visited India last October, was scheduled to meet the Indian president Monday.

However, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) chairperson has cancelled the meeting.

BNP Vice Chairman Shamsher Mobin Chowdhury Sunday informed the Indian High Commission here about the cancellation, said a party spokesperson. "There are security issues during the strike."

The Jamaat has called a two-day strike, March 3 and 4, to protest the conviction of JI leader Delwar Hossain Sayedee for the 1971 war crimes, including rape and genocide.

Nearly 60 people have been killed so far, including 14 on Sunday, in clashes between the police and Jamaat supporters, including its student wing, Islami Chhatra Shibir.

"The courtesy call is scheduled to be held at a time when the Jamaat is enforcing a shutdown," Chowdhury said. "We have informed the Indian High Commission that Khaleda will not be able to reach Sonargaon Hotel due to security reasons."

The BNP has called a strike on March 5, the last day of the president's visit.

Mukherjee arrived in Bangladesh to a red-carpet welcome and 21-gun salute on his first trip abroad as India's head of state.

He was received by President Zillur Rahman at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport.

The Indian president is accompanied by his wife Suvra Mukherjee and an official delegation, including Minister of State for Railways Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai and four MPs.

Zia's BNP heads a coalition of 18 opposition parties which is enforcing the strike to demand that a caretaker government be formed before the next national elections due in 2014. The coalition includes the Jamaat and smaller Islamic parties.

A coalition of 18 opposition parties is enforcing the strike to demand that a caretaker government be formed before the next national elections due in 2014. Zia's BNP heads the coalition, which includes the Jamaat-e-Islami and smaller Islamic parties.

(Ranjana Narayan can be contacted at





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