Sahara Khatun

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Sahara Khatun
Sahara Khatun.jpg
Minister of Posts and Telecommunications
In office
15 September 2012[1] – 21 November 2013[2]
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina
Preceded by Rajiuddin Ahmed Raju
Succeeded by Rashed Khan Menon
Minister of Home Affairs
In office
6 January 2009 – 15 September 2012
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina
Succeeded by Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir
Member of the Bangladesh Parliament for Dhaka-18
Assumed office
6 January 2009
Preceded by redistricted
Personal details
Born (1943-03-01) 1 March 1943 (age 74)
Kurmitola, Dhaka, Bengal Presidency, British India
Political party Bangladesh Awami League
Occupation Lawmaker, politician

Sahara Khatun (alternate spelling "Khatoon"; born 1 March 1943) is a Bangladeshi politician and former cabinet minister.[3] Khatun is a member of Jatiyo Sangsad (parliament),[4] and the former law secretary of the Awami League.[5]

Early life[edit]

Khatun was born in Kurmitola in Dhaka on 1 March 1943,[6] to Abdul Aziz and Turjan Nesa. She completed BA and LLB degrees. She is the Presidium Member of Bangladesh Awami League, founding president of Bangladesh Awami Ainjibi Parishad and General Secretary of Bangladesh Mahila Samity, as well as a member of the International Women Lawyers' Association and the International Women's Alliance. She started her career as a lawyer, and rose to fight cases at the Supreme Court of Bangladesh.

Political career[edit]

Khatun has been involved in politics since her student life.[3] She is currently a parliament member[4] as well as Minister of Posts & Telecommunications of the government of Bangladesh.[3][7]

General Elections, 1991[edit]

Khatun entered the national political scene in 1991 when she contested in the 5th Parliamentary elections as an Awami League candidate, and was defeated by Khaleda Zia of BNP, who then went on to become the Prime Minister of Bangladesh.[3]

General Elections, 2008[edit]

Khatun came in the scene again upon the arrest of current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Khatun was one of the forerunners to induce a legal as well as a political battle in Hasina's favour.[8] Khatun herself was charged with politically motivated crimes during the Caretaker Government's regime.[9]

With the exposure received in the run-up to the Bangladesh general election, 2008, she was pitched as an Awami League candidate from the Dhaka-18 constituency. Sahara pledged to the people in her constituency that she would reconstruct the roads and improve the drainage system in the area.[6] She eventually won the election,[3][4] and was then named the Minister of Home Affairs of the Government of Bangladesh.[3] She took office on 6 January 2009.[10] In a cabinet reshuffle of 2012, she was relieved of her duties as the Home Minister and made the Minister of Posts & Telecommunications of the government of Bangladesh.[7]

Tenure as Minister[edit]

Khatun's tenure as minister of home affairs has been marred by the following controversies.

BDR mutiny[edit]

During the 2009 BDR Mutiny, Khatun led the delegation[11] to negotiate with the mutineers, who were soldiers staging a mutiny against their officers of Bangladesh Rifles, the paramilitary force in charge of the borders. She went inside the campus of Bangladesh Rifles[11] to stimulate negotiation and to ask the mutineers to put their arms down.

The mutiny resulted in the death of 53 top officials of the army, and 3 family members.[12]

Since Bangladesh Rifles falls under the jurisdiction of the Home Ministry,[13] Sahara Khatun was largely blamed for failures in the massacre. She later blamed the deaths on the banned group Hizbut Tahrir.[14][15]

Officially, however, Sahara Khatun was applauded for her efforts in construing a negotiation, and being able to save about 40 officers who were still held hostage when the mutineers surrendered.[citation needed]

Moreover, her Ministry came under scrutiny when the arrested mutineers kept having mysterious deaths while under custody before trials.[16][17]

Extrajudicial killing[edit]

Khatun has been heavily criticised for the extrajudicial killings done by her forces, namely the Bangladesh Police and Rapid Action Battalion. According to Bangladeshi human rights group Odhikar, 127 citizens experienced extrajudicial killings in 2010 alone.[18]

Awami League in 2008 had promised in its election manifesto that it would stop all extrajudicial killings if brought to power,[19] and Human Rights Watch observed that Awami League had failed in its promise.[18]

Khatun in 2011 commented that there were no extrajudicial killings done during her tenure as Minister,[18] which was a stark contrast to various human rights reports.

Comment on Janmastami[edit]

Khatun attracted criticism in August 2010 when she asked the Hindu-minorities to cut their religious festival Janmastami short, so that it wouldn't clash with the Muslim-majority observances of Ramadan, as they coincided during the same time period. She urged the Hindu community not to make loud noises during sunset, when Muslims would be having iftar.[20]

Her comments were considered discriminatory,[20] since a limitation on minority celebrations were being imposed for the first time; Hindu festivals had previously coincided with Ramadan in Bangladesh.[20]


  1. ^ Liton, Shakhawat; Hasan, Rashidul (16 September 2012). "MKA replaces Shahara". The Daily Star. 
  2. ^ "28 ministers out, effectively". Dhaka Tribune. 22 November 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f "About Honourable Minister". Ministry of Home Affairs. MHA. Retrieved 11 April 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c "List of 9th Parliament Members". Bangladesh Parliament. Retrieved 11 April 2011. 
  5. ^ "Bangladesh Awami League – Central Committee". Bangladesh Awami League. Retrieved 11 April 2011. 
  6. ^ a b "Profile of Ministers". The Daily Star. Retrieved 11 April 2011. 
  7. ^ a b "Minister Message". Ministry of Posts & Telecommunications. Archived from the original on 29 March 2013. 
  8. ^ "Hasina arrested, sent to sub-jail". Financial Express. 17 August 2007. Retrieved 11 April 2011. 
  9. ^ Kumar, Anand (18 April 2007). "Bangladesh: Caretaker Government Targets Dynastic Politics". Retrieved 11 April 2011. 
  10. ^ "The President appointed Sheikh Hasina as the Prime Minister". Bangabhaban. Retrieved 11 April 2011. 
  11. ^ a b Manik, Julfiker Ali (26 February 2009). "Mutiny, bloodshed at BDR HQ". The Daily Star. Retrieved 14 April 2011. 
  12. ^ Manik, Julfiker Ali (3 March 2009). "6, not 72, army officers missing". The Daily Star. Retrieved 14 April 2011. 
  13. ^ "Border Guard Bangladesh". MHA. Retrieved 14 April 2011. 
  14. ^ "The BDR Massacre In Bangladesh -". Retrieved 3 April 2016. 
  15. ^ S. M. Anwar Hossain. "My Open Voice". Retrieved 3 April 2016. 
  16. ^ "BDR men killed one after another in the custody after mutiny". Modern Ghana. Retrieved 3 April 2016. 
  17. ^
  18. ^ a b c "No extra-judicial killing so far: Sahara". The Daily Star. 26 January 2011. Retrieved 14 April 2011. 
  19. ^ "Election Manifesto of Bangladesh Awami League-2008". Bangladesh Awami League. Retrieved 14 April 2011. 
  20. ^ a b c "Bangladesh minister Sahara Khatun slammed for comments on Janmashtami". World Snap. 31 August 2010. Retrieved 14 April 2011. 

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