By Mizan Rahman/Dhaka
As Bangladesh is set to observe the 11th anniversary today of the gruesome grenade attack on an Awami League rally in the capital city, 19 charge-sheeted accused out of 52 are still believed to be hiding abroad despite the government’s efforts to bring them back.
In the latest development, South Africa on Wednesday agreed to send back Maulana Mohamad Tajuddin, a key accused in the grenade attack case, to Bangladesh.
The decision came in a meeting between visiting South African delegation, led by Nomindiya Mfeketo, deputy minister of the department of international relations and co-operation and Bangladesh’s Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan at the latter’s secretariat office.
“We have taken initiatives to bring back the charge-sheeted accused including Bangladesh Nationalist Party senior vice-chairman Tarique Rahman from abroad,” home minister Asaduzzaman Khan told newsmen in Dhaka yesterday.
“We have information that 19 among the 52 charge-sheeted accused in the August 21 grenade attack cases are now staying abroad,” a top police official said.
“The list of the charge-sheeted accused has already sent to the Interpol. At the same time we are taking special care so that none of the criminals could flee the country after obtaining bail,” he added.
“Of the charge-sheeted accused eight including three former inspectors general of police and three former investigation officers are on bail, 19 are on the run while the remaining others are now in different jails,” public prosecutor advocate Mosharraf Hossain Kajol dealing with the August 21 grenade attack cases said.
He said it would require four to eight more months to complete the trials as 176 prosecution witnesses out of 491 testified after giving depositions to the court.
Of the accused, former minister and Jamaat-e-Islami secretary general Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed, former state minister for home Lutfozzaman Babar, ex-deputy minister Abdus Salam Pintu and Harkatul Jihad chief Mufti Abdul Hannan are in jails.
Of the 19 fugitives, Tarique Rahman is now staying in London and Harris Chowdhury in Assam in India. Among others, Shah Mofazzal Hossain Kaikobad is living in Bangkok, owner of Hanif Enterprise, Mohammad Hanif is in Kolkata, major general (retd) ATM Amin in America, Lt Col (retd) Saiful Islam Joarder in Canada, Babu alias Ratul Babu in India, Anisul Morsalin and his brother Mohibul Muttakin are in an Indian jail, intelligence sources said.
Militant leaders Shafikur Rahman, Mufti Abdul Hai, Maulana Abu Bakar, Iqbal, Khalilur Rahman, Jahangir Alam alias Badar, Maulana Liton alias Zobair alias Delwar and Maulana Tajul Islam, the then deputy commissioner (east) and deputy commissioner (south) of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) Md Obaidur Rahman and Khan Syed Hasan are also abroad, the sources said adding that most of them are now in Pakistan.
Of the fugitive accused, Maulana Tajuddin and Babu are brothers of the detained former deputy minister of the BNP government Abdus Salam Pintu, who is also a chargesheeted accused in the August 21 grenade attack case.
The grenade attack was carried out at an anti- terrorism rally of Awami League (AL) on August 21 in 2004 during the BNP-Jamaat alliance government aiming to eliminate the AL’s party leadership.
The then opposition leader and incumbent prime minister Sheikh Hasina and other front-ranking leaders of the AL escaped the carnage. AL leaders including the then mayor of Dhaka city late Mohamad Hanif saved their party chief after forming a human shield.
But, 24 people including the then AL president and wife of incumbent president of Bangladesh Zillur Rahman were killed and over 500 others injured in the attack and many of them were crippled for life.
The CID submitted two separate supplementary charge sheets in the August 21 grenade attack cases-one for murder and another under explosive act against 30 people on July 3 this year after a fresh investigation into the matter.
With them, the number of accused in the cases stands at 52,as CID earlier on July 11, 2008 indicted 22 people including ex-deputy minister of the BNP Abdus Salam Pintu and chief of the banned outfit Harkatul Jihad-al-Islami (HuJI) Mufti Abdul Hannan.
During the BNP-Jamaat rule till October 2006, the investigators tried to divert the probe to protect the culprits. The CID failed to submit charge sheets though leaders in the then government claimed several times that the probe was about to be completed and everything would be revealed.
Media reports on the cooked-up story of Joj Mia brought to public attention to the then CID officials’ attempt to derail the investigation. During the last caretaker government’s tenure, the first charge sheets in the August 21 cases were placed against 22 people, including ex-BNP deputy minister Abdus Salam Pintu and 21 Huji leaders and workers.
The visible attempt to frustrate the case by the then BNP-led regime prompted the subsequent interim government to order a fresh investigation into the case.
LEAVE A COMMENT Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*
Bangladesh lensman freed after months in detention
Bangladesh opposition says internet cut to HQ
Khaleda seeks stay on graft case verdict
Bangladesh police break up opposition protest
Lanka parliament sacks new PM, leaving power vacuum
Bangladesh police break up opposition protest
Bangladesh police fire rubber bullets, teargas to disperse opposition protest
Bangladesh must halt plans to return Rohingya to Myanmar: UN
Bangladesh election pushed back after opposition plea