ISLAMABAD: Top Bangladeshi politician and serving Member of Parliament Salauddin Quader Chowdhury has landed in hospital in a serious condition. He was reportedly beaten up after being arrested on charges of war crimes.
A strong opposition leader in Bangladesh, Chowdhury has always been suspected of being a ‘Pakistani agent’ in that country. He is also known to be a staunch anti-Indian lobbyist at the international level.
Chowdhury is the son of Fazalul Quader Chowdhury, a former speaker of the national assembly of undivided Pakistan in 1965. His father also served as acting president of Pakistan during the regime of former president General Ayub Khan.
Chowdhury studied at the Sadiq Public School (SPS), Bahawalpur, where his classmates were former Senate chairperson Mohammedmian Soomro, former federal minister Ishaq Khan Khakwani and former foreign minister Sadiq Khan Kanju. He sat his Senior Cambridge exams at the school in 1966.
Chowdhury was a university student when the 1971 war broke out and he went to London to attend the Lincoln’s Inn. Back at home, his father was picked up by Sheikh Mujibur Rehman’s Awami League government and eventually, he died in jail in 1973.
Khakwani, who was also his roommate at (SPS), was informed of his friend’s ordeal when Chowdhury’s daughter Farzeen called her father’s friends in Pakistan.
“Farzeen told me that her father had been forcibly taken from their house in Dhanmandi, Dhaka, by a large contingent of police,” Khakwani told The Express Tribune. “There were no warrants of arrest served.”
According to Chowdhury’s family, he was badly manhandled and his toenails were extracted. He had to be shifted to a hospital under the supervision of the Dhaka police.
A magistrate in Dhaka had given a five-day physical remand of the sitting parliamentarian, who was representing Chittagong for the seventh time. Chowdhury has held many positions in the Bangladeshi cabinet alongside General Irshad Hussein and Begum Khaleda Zia.
Even though Sheikh Mujib had badly treated his father, Chowdhury was visibly distressed when Mujib died. “I distinctly remember that when Mujib was killed in a coup by Bandladesh’s army, Chowdhury wept like a child for a long time and it took us a while to console him,” Khakwani recalls. “He forgot his father’s death, who Mujib had kept in jail despite knowing that he was a heart patient and a chronic patient of diabetes.”
Published in The Express Tribune, December 19th, 2010.