Govt blocked Skype to stop Tarique interviewing aspirants: BNP

The government has blocked video chat tool Skype to bar Tarique Rahman from interviewing possible nominees, the BNP has alleged.

Senior Correspondentbdnews24.com
Published : 19 Nov 2018, 05:12 PM
Updated : 19 Nov 2018, 06:30 PM

Several officials of the International Internet Gateway or IIG operators told bdnews24.com on Monday night that they had taken down Skype website and mobile phone app on telecom regulator BTRC’s orders.

But the BTRC denies having issued any such instructions.

BNP Senior Vice Chairman Tarique Rahman interviewed aspirants for the party tickets for the parliamentary polls through Skype videoconference from London on Sunday and Monday.

The Awami League has filed a complaint at the Election Commission calling for action to stop Tarique joining the nomination process of his party since he is a fugitive convict.

The commission on Monday said it cannot do anything about the issue now.

“As he is not in the country the code of conduct apparently does not apply to him,” EC Secretary Helal Uddin Ahmed said.

BNP Senior Joint Secretary General Ruhul Kabir Rizvi later told a media briefing that they had come to know about the BTRC blocking Skype immediately after the EC secretary's remarks.

Internet connections to party chief Khaleda Zia’s Gulshan office, where the BNP is conducting the interviews, were also cut off, he claimed citing officials at the office.

“This move has only one target, which is preventing Tarique Rahman from interviewing the aspirants. I condemn such mean, heinous act of the government,” he said, urging the authorities to unblock Skype.

“We haven’t given any instruction to block Skype,” BTRC Acting Chairman Jahurul Haque told bdnews24.com.

Some mobile phone users at Gulshan Health Club area said they cannot access 3G and 4G internet services.

"The government swoons even when it hears the slightest sound of our acting chief’s voice. Stopping Tarique Rahman means choking democracy,” Rizvi said.

“It has proved that the Awami League-led alliance will control the voting,” he added.

He also alleged police had confined a number of leaders and activists of his party but were not admitting to arresting them.

Tarique has been staying with his family in London since 2008 when he left Bangladesh after his release from jail on parole during the military-controlled caretaker government.

He has been sentenced up to life in jail for money laundering, corruption and the Aug 21, 2004 grenade attack on an Awami League targeting the party’s chief Sheikh Hasina, then the leader of the opposition now seeking an unprecedented fourth term as prime minister.

The 50-year old was appointed acting chief of the BNP after his mother and party chief Khaleda Zia was jailed in February for corruption.  

The High Court had earlier banned publication of his statement in any form since he is a fugitive from the law.

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