BNP acting chairman Tarique Rahman yesterday served a legal notice on State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam, seeking proof within the next 10 days about the allegation that Tarique had given up his Bangladeshi citizenship by “surrendering passport”.
Tarique, who is now in the UK, also sent the notice to the editors of Bangla dailies Kaler Kantho and Bangladesh Pratidin, asking them to withdraw their reports based on Shahriar's statement.
Barrister Kaiser Kamal served the notice on behalf of Tarique, saying that appropriate legal action would be taken against Shahriar if he failed to prove the allegation and if he did not withdraw his statement.
The two Bangla dailies' editors would face the same if they did not withdraw their reports, he said in the notice.
Shahriar, at a programme in London on Saturday, claimed that Tarique had given up his nationality by surrendering his passport.
In the notice, Kaiser mentioned that his client Tarique had been staying in the UK for his treatment.
“The news was completely false, fabricated, slanderous, insulting, derogatory and defamatory because my client never renounced his Bangladeshi citizenship or handed over his Bangladeshi passport to the Bangladesh High Commission in London,” the lawyer said.
SHAHRIAR DEFENDS HIS STATEMENT
The state minister yesterday defended his statement, saying Tarique along with his wife and daughter handed over their passports to the British Home Office four years ago, which indicated that they did not want Bangladeshi nationality.
The British Home Office then handed over the passports to the Bangladesh High Commission in London on June 2, 2014, Shahriar said. “Now, they've no travel documents to come to Bangladesh,” he said at a press briefing at his Gulshan home.
Replying to a question, the state minister claimed that Tarique was no longer a Bangladeshi citizen since he submitted his passport to the British authorities, not the Bangladesh High Commission.
“Had he wanted a renewal of passport or extension of validity, he would have handed it over to the Bangladesh High Commission in London.”
Shahriar also asked the “interested” BNP leaders to visit the Bangladesh High Commission to verify the fact.
Providing photocopies of Tarique's passport details with a forwarding letter from the British Home Office, the state minister said Tarique (bearing passport number C0974496) got a six-month UK visa on September 8, 2008, and he entered the UK on September 12, 2008.
According to page 1, the passport was issued on September 4, 2008, in Dhaka and on page 3 it was stated that it was valid until June 3, 2010.
Page 7 says that on December 10, 2008, the validity of the passport was extended for five years (until September 3, 2013). The extension was made by the Bangladesh High Commission in London and was signed by Nazrul Islam Sikder, attache (consular).
Asked about the dates of validity of the passport, Shahriar told The Daily Star that there was no confusion in it as the then caretaker government had issued the passport with a 2-year validity and then the validity had been extended for another five years.
The state minister said he collected all information from the Bangladesh High Commission in London. “I heard that they [Tarique] issued a legal notice. If they want to file a case, we'll definitely face it.”
The BNP yesterday said Shahriar made a false and baseless statement on Tarique that he gave up his nationality.
“The state minister for foreign affairs has told a blatant lie. We challenge the Bangladesh High Commission to show Tarique Rahman's Bangladeshi passport if he submitted it,” Ruhul Kabir Rizvi, senior joint secretary general of the party, told journalists at a press briefing at party's Nayapaltan central office.
He said, “None from the Zia family has married any foreigner and they [Zia family members] also did not accept citizenship of any other country.”
The ruling Awami League asked Tarique to show his Bangladeshi passport in support of his claim that he did not give up his Bangladeshi nationality.
"Tarique Rahman surrendered his Bangladeshi passport to the British Home Office by post," said AL acting general secretary Abu Sayeed Al Mahmud Swapon while addressing a press conference at party president's Dhanmondi office yesterday.
Tarique, elder son of BNP chief and former prime minister Khaleda Zia, has been living in London since he left Bangladesh in 2008 during the last caretaker government. Since then, he never renewed his passport, Swapon said.
"We will welcome the BNP if it can show any evidence of the passport renewal," he added.