Khaleda's son held in nightlong anti-corruption raids
Mar 8, 2007 - 2:58:30 PM

Dhaka, March 8 - Former Bangladesh prime minister Khaleda Zia's son Tarique Rahman was caught in a dramatic swoop on his residence by armed forces past midnight as part of the government's anti-corruption drive.

Zia's political rival and former prime minister Sheikh Hasina's cousin Sheikh Helal was also nabbed in the drive.

Over 1,500 persons, including 35 politicians, have been nabbed in the course of Wednesday-Thursday in the drive that is continuing.

Media reports Thursday said armed forces surrounded Tarique's house in Dhaka Cantonment where he lives with his mother, disconnected telephone connections including mobile ones, and stepped into his house at 12.10 a.m.

The Daily Star said the caretaker government was causing 'the final downfall of the man, who once looked untouchable to any force.'

'When the endgame came, Tarique looked nervous and unsure,' the newspaper said, quoting sources present during the raid.

Efforts to photograph his arrest by Zia's family members were foiled.

New Age newspaper said the former prime minister herself took photographs of her son being taken away. But policewomen on duty snatched the camera away.

Authorities also held Obaidul Qader, Awami League's joint secretary and spokesman. Qader belongs to a political family of Chittagong.

While searching for Sheikh Helal, authorities repeatedly raided Sudha Sadan, Hasina's personal residence twice. Star Online said there was a third raid Thursday morning.

Those arrested figure in a list of 50 people under investigation and restricted from leaving the country.

The government of Chief Advisor Fakhruddin Ahmed, in office since January 12, when the country was placed under a national emergency, has detained an estimated 45,000 people and put them on trial. These include former ministers and lawmakers, besides political workers, officials and businessmen.

This is the first action against family members of former prime ministers that, Bangladesh watchers say, was expected in view of the lengthy investigations.

Tarique, 36, has been his mother's principal political aide as an official of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party -. His clout, both political and economic, was seen to be growing during the five-year BNP rule -.

Tarique was seen wielding immense, unconstitutional power from the BNP headquarters at Hawa Bhavan.

Officials deposing before the courts have in recent weeks alleged that ministers and top officials of the then Prime Minister's Office visited him with files and decisions on many key issues were taken at his bidding.

Security forces also raided the residence of Anwar Hossain Monju, owner of the influential Bengali daily Ittefaq and who also heads a faction of the Jatiya Party, considered the third largest political party in the country.

During the nightlong raids, forces arrested Chittagong Mayor A.B.M. Mohiuddin Chowdhury, who belongs to Awami League, former health minister Khandakar Mosharraf Hossain, former lawmaker of Jamaat Abdullah Mohammad Tahir and editor of Janakantha Atikullah Khan Masud.

The newspaper's office was raided past midnight when none was allowed to leave till Masud was taken away.

Authorities prevented staff members from using their cell phones.

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