Charges pressed against top BNP, alliance leadersRobiul Islam
Police seek warrants for their arrest, hearing May 13
The detective branch of police on Thursday pressed charges against 45 leaders and activists of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led alliance, including acting BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, for setting a bus on fire during the opposition-enforced hartal on April 29.
Submitting the charge sheet to the Dhaka Chief Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court in the case filed with Tejgaon police for the arson near the Prime Minister’s Office, the detective branch sought warrants for the arrest of 37 opposition leaders and activists, as seven others were already in custody and one was on bail.
In an application filed along with the charge sheet, the detective branch said that the 37, including Alamgir, BNP standing committee members MK Anwar, Mirza Abbas, Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain, former Dhaka mayor Sadeque Hossain and Goyeshwar Chandra Roy, Liberal Democratic Party president Oli Ahmed, Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami acting ameer Mokbul Hossain and Bangladesh Jatiya Party president Andaleeve Rahman Partha had gone into
hiding and the court should issue warrants for their arrests or attachment of their property.
Dhaka metropolitan magistrate Bikash Chandra Saha posted for May 13 the hearing in the application.
The BNP immediately rejected the charges, saying they were ‘politically motivated’ and aimed at foiling the ongoing anti-government movement.
The case was filed amid growing tension over the disappearance of BNP organising secretary M Ilias Ali, who went missing on April 18 from Banani in the city.
The BNP-led alliance enforced general strikes for five days in April to demand that the government ‘return’ Ilias amid accusation that security agencies had ‘abducted’ him, an allegation that the government denied.
The police on the night of April 29 filed two cases – one with the Tejgaon police for setting fire to a bus and the other with the Shahbagh police in connection with the bomb blast in the secretariat during the strike on the day – under the Law and Order Infringing Offences (Speedy Trial) Act 2002.
Both the cases were transferred to the detective branch for investigation.
Detective branch inspector Nurul Amin, also the investigation officer in the arson case, submitted the charge sheet pressing charges against the 45 under Sections 4 and 5 of the 2002 act.
The charges entail punishment ranging between two and five years of rigorous imprisonment and fine.
According to the act, the trial needs to complete in 30 working days.
The arson case was filed against 44 leaders and activists of the BNP-led alliance.
In the charge sheet, Nurul Amin, however, did not press charges against Jamaat-backed student organisation Islami Chhatra Shibir general secretary Abdul Jabbar, who was named in the first information report, saying that his address could not be confirmed.
Once the address of Jabbar would be confirmed, he would be forwarded for trial, the charge sheet stated.
Defence lawyer Masud Ahmed, however, claimed that Jabbar was dropped from the charge sheet on instruction of the home minister as he was a close relation of a government high-up.
The investigation officer also pressed charges against Titumir College Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal president Ismail Khan Shahin and Mohammadpur Swechchhasebak Dal president Mannan Hossain Shahin, who were not named in the FIR.
The charge sheet stated that 37 people, including opposition lawmakers Mahbubuddin Khokan, Shahid Uddin Chowdhury Annie and Andaleeve Rahman Partha, BNP leaders Amanullah Aman, Mirza Abbas, Ruhul Kuddus Talukder Dulu, Kamruzzaman Ratan, Fazlul Haq Milon, Nazimuddin Alam, Goyeshwar Chandra Roy, Habibunnabi Khan Sohel and Chhatra Dal president Sultan Salauddin Tuku, in six to seven microbuses stopped a bus and vandalised it near the Prime Minister’s Office at about 9:05pm on April 29.
Someone of them set the bus on fire, the first information report said.
Charges were pressed against BNP leaders Fakhrul, MK Anwar, Khnadakar Mosharraf, Hannan Shah, Sadeque Hossain, Ruhul Kabir Rizvi, LDP president Oli Ahmed and Jamaat nayeb-e-amir Maqbul Hossain for plotting, instructing and financing the alleged offence.
Of the accused named in the charge sheet, Rizvi, Ratan and five others have already been arrested and they are now in custody.
Mahbubuddin Khokan obtained ad interim anticipatory bail from the High Court on May 3 and regular bail until May 20 from the CMM court on May 9.
The rest 37 leaders and activists also went to the High Court seeking anticipatory bail in the case.
A two-member High Court bench, however, on May 7 passed split orders.
The presiding judge of the bench, Justice Md Moinul Islam Chowdhury, granted them bail until submission of police report in the two cases, while the second judge, Justice Nazrul Islam Talukder ordered the accused to appeal for bail in seven days in the trial court.
According to the rules, the matter was then referred to the chief justice, who assigned Justice Mohammad Anwarul Haque on Thursday as the third judge to resolve the matter.
The matter is likely to be heard by Justice Mohammad Anwarul Haque on Sunday.
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