Zahangir Alam suspended as Gazipur mayor, days after expulsion from ruling party

The government has suspended Zahangir Alam as the mayor of Gazipur, days after his expulsion from the ruling Awami League, for his controversial remarks on Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the martyrs of the 1971 Liberation War.

Published : 25 Nov 2021, 10:33 AM
Updated : 25 Nov 2021, 02:46 PM

Local government and rural development ministry suspended appointed a three-member mayoral panel to run Gazipur City Corporation, LGRD Minister Tajul Islam said at a news conference in Dhaka on Thursday.

The ministry can act against people working in the city corporations and municipalities if they get involved in “atrocious and evil” activities, the minister said.   

The Awami League expelled Zahangir on Friday as the general secretary of its Gazipur Metropolitan Unit. He lost his party membership as well.

The ruling party had earlier served a notice on Zahangir, asking him to explain why he should not be expelled for the “breach of organisational discipline and working against party interests” after an audio of his comments spread in late September.

A man, purportedly Zahangir, is heard making derogatory comments in the audio clip on the three million martyrs and Bangabandhu’s role in the war. Awami League activists filed at least two cases against him over the remarks.

This was the first time a sitting mayor was expelled by their party in the five years of mayoral elections to the city corporations with candidates directly nominated by the political organisations. The parties could only back a candidate previously. 

It was unclear how the authorities would deal with the issue of Zahangir’s mayoral post as the amended local government election law does not touch on such matter.

Zahangir was elected mayor in June 2018 with the Awami League’s boat symbol after defeating the BNP’s Hasan Uddin Sarker by a huge margin of over 200,000 votes.

He was at the centre of controversy as mayor on at least two previous occasions. Before the government-approved rapid tests for COVID-19 amid the pandemic, he brought 50,000 testing kits from China, saying that “lives, not rules, come first”.

He also announced the opening of mosques for prayers before the government ended a ban on gatherings at places of worship amid a coronavirus lockdown.

The High Court recently issued a contempt of court rule against Zahangir in a case over land ownership.

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher