August 21 grenade attacks
Tarique, Babar, 28 others indictedCourt Correspondent
Bangladesh Nationalist Party chairperson Khaleda Zia’s eldest son Tarique Rahman, former state minister for home Lutfozzaman Babar and 29 others were on Sunday indicted in two cases for the grenade attacks on an Awami League rally in the city on August 21, 2004.
The Dhaka Speedy Trial Tribunal judge, Shahed Nuruddin, posted for March 28 the start of the trial of the grenade attacks, which killed 24 people, including Mahila Awami League president Ivy Rahman, and wounded scores, with recording of depositions of the prosecution witnesses.
With the 30 indicted on Sunday, 51 people will now face the trial, as 22 people, including former BNP deputy minister Abdus Salam Pintu, who had been indicted in the cases earlier, the tribunal ordered.
The tribunal said that the charges framed against 22 people on October 29, 2008 would remain valid.
The 30 indicted on Sunday include the detained Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami secretary general Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed, former prime minister Khaleda Zia’s political adviser Haris Chowdhury, current BNP lawmaker Shah Mofazzal Hossain Kaikobad, former Directorate General of Forces Intelligence director general retired major general ATM Amin, former National Security Intelligence directors general retired major general Rezzakul Haider Chowdhury and retired brigadier general Abdur Rahim, former navy official retired lieutenant commander Saiful Islam Duke, also Khaleda’s nephew, former DGFI official retired lieutenant colonel Saiful Islam Joarder, former inspectors general of police M Ashraful Huda, Shahidul Haque and Khodabaksh Chowdhury, who was then additional inspector general of the CID, former Dhaka Metropolitan Police deputy commissioners Khan Sayeed Hasan and Obaidur Rahman, former investigation officers of the cases, special superintendent of CID Md Ruhul Amin and assistant superintendents Abdur Rashid and Munshi Atiqur Rahman,
Dhaka city ward commissioner Md Ariful Islam, transport owner Md Hanif, and individuals allegedly having militant links – Sheikh Abdus Salam, Md Abdul Majed Butt (also known as Md Yusuf Butt, a Pakistani, Abdul Malek (also known as Golam Mohammad), Abdur Rauf (also known as Abu Omar Abu Hussain or Peer Saheb Baba), Sabbir Ahmed (also known as Abdul
Hannan Sabbir), Shawkat Osman (also known as Sheikh Farid), Hafez Yahia, Mufti Shafiqur Rahman, Mufti Abdul Hai and Ratul Babu.
Of them, Babar, Mojaheed and 17 others, who are now in jail custody and on bail, were in the dock and they pleaded not guilty.
Tarique, also BNP senior vice-president, is now in London for medical treatment, while 10 other freshly indicted persons are on the run.
After the bloody grenade attacks on the AL rally on Bangabandhu Avenue on August 21 in 2004, two cases were filed – one for
murder and another under the Explosive Substances Act.
The CID on June 11, 2008, during the military-controlled interim regime, submitted two charge sheets pressing charges against 22 people, including Pintu, his two brothers Maulana Tajuddin and Maulana Liton and Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami operations commander Mufti Abdul Hannan, in the cases.
After the AL-led alliance assumed office on January 6, 2009, the cases took a new turn as the Dhaka Speedy Trial Tribunal, after recording depositions of 61prosecution witnesses, ordered further investigation of the cases on August 3, 2009.
The court passed the order after hearing a petition filed on June 25, 2009 by the prosecution seeking further investigations saying that the earlier investigations had failed to identify the masterminds and the source of the grenades used in the attacks and had not explained the status of the grenades seized on the spot.
On August 13, 2009, the CID started the reinvestigations with special police superintendent Abdul Kahhar Akand as head of the investigation team.
Police sub-inspector Faruk Hossain and Awami League leaders Abdul Jalil and Saber Hossain Chowdhury filed three first information reports with the Motijheel police on the grenade attacks.
The CID took charge of the investigation of the grenade attack case on August 23, 2004, two days after the attacks.
CID’s assistant superintendent Abdur Rashid was appointed the investigation officer and special superintendent Ruhul Amin was made the supervisor.
Rashid arrested 20 people and allegedly forced Joj Mia, Abul Hashem Rana and Shafiqul Islam to admit to guilt in the presence of magistrates under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code on June 26, December 12 and December 17 in 2005.
After Rashid’s retirement, Munshi Atiqur Rahman was appointed investigation officer of the cases on December 24, 2005.
In the meantime, the CID had arrested Mufti Hannan in connection with the Ramna Batamul blast
case. He is also accused in several other cases filed
in connection with militancy.
During CID interrogation, Hannan reportedly admitted to having been involved in the grenade attacks and named 27 others, including Abdus Salam Pintu, who were directly and indirectly involved in the plot and execution of the attacks.
There are allegations that through multiple investigations, the BNP-led alliance government tried to establish that the Awami League was involved in the attacks and to prove that ‘foreign enemies’ had instigated the carnage.
Eleven days after the attacks, the then prime minister Khaleda Zia blamed the Awami League for the grenade attacks.
The judicial inquiry commission of Justice Joynul Abedin, set up to investigate the carnage, had also said in its report that ‘foreign agencies’ might have plotted the attacks.
The government had then asked for help from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation and Interpol but their findings had never been made public.
The CID on March 29, 2010 sued former investigation officers Rashid, Atiqur and Ruhul Amin on charges of deflecting the investigation in a wrong direction by forcing some people to make false statements and concealing evidence to protect the culprits.
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