Latif Siddique returns home

The expelled Awami League leader and cabinet member, Abdul Latif Siddique, on Sunday evening returned to Dhaka on an Air India flight two months after staying in different countries since September when some of his remarks had hurt religious sentiment of Muslims prompting the courts to issue warrants for his arrest for ignoring summons in over two dozen cases. Latif Siddiqui, a former policymaker of AL, is now wanted by more than a dozen courts across the country as he did not respond to the court summons for making derogatory remarks on Allah, his Prophet (SM), hajj and Tabligh. The airport officials said that the elderly lawmaker from Tangail arrived in Dhaka from Kolkata at about 8:21pm. After staying at the VIP lounge for about an hour after completing immigration formalities, he left the airport through the domestic terminal at about 9:30pm as media cars gathered outside the VIP terminal.

He was escorted by law enforcers in plain clothes and intelligence personnel. His whereabouts could not be known till 11:00pm. The Uttara police refused to comment when asked why he was not arrested on arrival despite having a dozen arrest warrants. But, a senior police officer in Uttara told New Age, ‘We cannot arrest him since we have no warrant for doing so.’ On November 28, the then posts, telecommunications and Information technology minister, Latif Siddique, while on a visit to the United States, said, ‘Abdullah’s son Muhammad had introduced the hajj as a means of livelihood for Saudi Arabians’ who, he said, were ‘robbers’. ‘I am dead against hajj and Tabligh Jamaat. I am more against the hajj and Tabligh Jamaat than Jamaat-e-Islami. It is sheer waste of manpower [and money]. Some 20 lakh people have gone to Saudi Arabia. They have no work to do there. It is deduction [of money] rather than production.

They are spending and consuming. They are taking the country’s money to Saudi Arabia.’ His remarks triggered protest and cases were filed against him. On October 13, Latif Siddique in an interview with the BBC in Kolkata had said he wanted to return home but was waiting for a decision from the party and the government on the matter. In the interview, he said he repented putting his party and government in trouble and an embarrassing situation, but did not repent his remarks on Islam. After removing Latif Siddique from the cabinet and the party presidium, the Awami League finally expelled him from the party on October 24.

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