Mystery and skullduggery surrounded the ‘arrival’ early this evening of a flight carrying Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s elusive son Sajeeb Wazed Joy to Dhaka, less than 24 hours before he is supposed to give away prizes to winners of the seventh edition of the Joy Bangla Youth awards on November 18.
Two reports on two different days, one by Somoy News, a government mouthpiece, and another by Manab Zamin, an independent newspaper published from Dhaka, carried near-identical information on Sajeeb Wazed Joy’s presence at the awards function which is being organised by the Centre for Research and Information (CRI).
The reports simply stated that Sajeeb Wazed would give away the awards to the winners at the November 18 function to be held at the Jahangirnagar University campus in Savar near Dhaka. There was neither any mention of the location that he would fly out of or the date of his departure from that place.
Even as the ruling Awami League had been maintaining a stoic silence on Sajeeb Wazed’s whereabouts over the past several months, several credible reports suggested that he was in Virginia, United States, and that he was faced with some legal issues in that country.
Since the publication of the Somoy News report, a “whisper campaign”, accompanied by strange messages on Whatsapp – that Sajeeb Wazed would give away the awards on November 18 – began to circulate across Bangladesh and beyond. CRI office bearers took the lead in disseminating this information, leaving a wide cross section of people bewildered a confused.
Now, pertinent questions are being raised by different quarters on why the Bangladesh prime minister’s son must resort to “strangely mysterious ways” to return to his home country.
There are other damning questions: how is it that if Sajeeb Wazed took a commercial flight from the US – with a stopover in a West Asian Gulf country – why was his arrival so low profile? Curiously, a nine-second video showing Sajeeb Wazed walking down a narrow corridor with two Special Security Force (SSF) officers right behind him went into almost immediate circulation. In the clip, Sajeeb Wazed is shown walking down the passage with passengers on one side of a glass-partition without showing much interest in the man passing by.
Even if it is considered that he arrived in Dhaka this evening, how was he spirited out of the airport in complete secrecy? Did Bangladesh’s security agencies take a lesser known route out of the airport and away from full public glare? Dhaka airport sources confirmed to the Northeast News that “a flight” – in all likelihood Emirates from Dubai – carrying Sajeeb Wazed touched down at Dhaka airport at 6:20 pm local time on November 17.
Clearly, Bangladeshi security agencies mounted an “operation” to whisk him out of the airport and to the relative security of the prime minister’s residence. Considering that he was elusive for several months, there was no fanfare, no gathering of crowds and no media build-up of his arrival in Dhaka.
Questions have also cropped up over his prolonged “disappearance” from public life in the US and whether he was in the midst of an equally prolonged legal examination from which he has only recently been able to extricate himself for a brief period of time.
For the record, Sheikh Hasina had openly said in a press conference – without being prompted by any questions from reporters – in New York in late September this year that “if the US authorities seize his properties and wealth, let them; there is Bangladesh”.
For the record, media reports, including that by Northeast News, had suggested that Sajeeb Wazed’s legal issue in the US came up for discussion between Sheikh Hasina and American National Security Advisor (NSA) Jake Sullivan at a meeting between the two at the Bangladesh embassy in Washington, DC, on September 27. The issue was raised by Sheikh Hasina but when it reportedly met with a strictly official response from Sullivan, the former quickly ended the meeting and left the room.
Sajeeb Wazed’s reported arrival in Dhaka now has raised questions also on the likelihood of an understanding and arrangement in the US. His arrival in Dhaka has also heightened speculations about any possibility of his returning to the US where he reportedly owns expensive properties in extremely affluent areas of Virginia.