NEW DELHI (Reuters) - A British parliamentarian and lawyer, who is a counsel for jailed Bangladeshi politician Khaleda Zia, said on Thursday he was outraged by India’s decision to deny him entry to address a press conference defending his client and meet a human rights body.
India’s foreign ministry said it sent back Alex Carlile, a member of the House of Lords, from New Delhi airport on Wednesday because his “intended activity in India was incompatible with the purpose of his visit as mentioned in his visa application”.
“This is no way to treat a 70-year-old senior lawyer and Parliamentarian,” Carlile said in a statement. “I am outraged by the political interference in Begum Khaleda Zia’s case on political grounds by two governments, and I expect a full explanation from the Indian Government. I have the visa they granted me a few days ago.”
Bangladesh opposition leader and two-term Prime Minister Zia was jailed in February for corruption, but her party says the case is politically motivated by the ruling party in an election year. The Bangladeshi government has consistently denied the charges.
In his prepared statement for the planned New Delhi briefing on Thursday, released to reporters by email, Carlile said Bangladesh had delayed granting him a visa and that he was grateful to the Indian media for the chance to “lay bare the unfair and unjust approach of the Bangladesh authorities to the case of my client”.
A Bangladesh foreign ministry spokesman declined to comment.
India’s foreign ministry spokesman, Raveesh Kumar, told a weekly media briefing in New Delhi that it was not acceptable for Carlile to use Indian soil to hold such a press conference when he could have done the same from London.
Kumar declined to answer what category visa Carlile should have held other than his “business” visa, but said he suspected there was an attempt to “create some kind of a problem” in the relationship between India and Bangladesh.
India and Bangladesh enjoy close ties. New Delhi militarily helped the then East Pakistan liberate itself from Pakistan in 1971.
Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) said it was disappointed that India sent Carlile back.
“He has not been allowed to enter Bangladesh so wanted to raise the issues about her cases from our good neighbour India,” BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir told Reuters. “Our leader is in jail for several months and it’s injustice done to her. He wanted to reveal the truth, but could not.”
Additional reporting by Serajul Quadir in DHAKA; Editing by Toby Chopra