As many as 232 cases regarding acts of sabotage were filed in 32 police stations of Chattogram between 1 January and 15 December this year, according to the police and court records.
However, neither the locals nor the media were aware of the 'incidents' reported although the documents say three to four incidents of crude bomb explosions or other acts of sabotage took place in Chattogram everyday.
A total of 103 cases were filed only in October, 47 in September and 25 in November. In most of the cases, police were the plaintiffs and the cases implicated a large number of leaders and activists of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and Jaamat-e-Islami.
Even cases were filed against persons who are already dead or in jail.
Also, police and Awami League and Jatiya Party leaders filed 13 cases in 11 days between 12 and 22 December against at least 8,000 BNP leaders in Bagura. Five of the 13 cases were filed in the same incident of a clash between BNP and AL leaders.
The leaders and activists of the opposition camp in Chattogram are hiding to avoid arrest.
The number of prisoners increased by more than 3,000 in a month. The total number of people imprisoned in Chattogram Central Jail till 25 December is 10,428 while it was 5,600 at the same period in 2017.
Visiting 10 such places, mentioned in the case statements where explosives and crude bombs were said to have been recovered, the Prothom Alo correspondent found no evidence of such incidents.
A case against 35 BNP men and another 25 unknown assailants was filed in Chattogram city’s Bayazid Bostami police station in connection with an explosion infront of a garment factory in Sher Shah Fakirpara on 28 Obtober.
A number of shopkeepers told the correspondent that they did not hear any explosions that night.
When asked, the investigation officer of the case, Rezaul Islam, however, denied to comment on the case before the investigation is done.
Jashim Uddin from Chattogram’s Bakolia was a party worker of BNP who had died in 2017, according to his family. However, Bakolia Police filed a case under explosives act against 18 people, including Jashim.
Police mentioned in the statement that they saw Jashim hurling crude bombs on 10 October this year.
Bakolia police, later, informed the court in writing that they had filed the case mistakenly.
Jatiya Oikya Front candidate Shahadat Hossain in Chattogram-9 constituency was arrested on 7 November. He was out in bail in 30 cases at the time.
However, 11 more cases were filed against him between 21 October and 3 November.
Notably, the statements in all 11 cases were same except the date and venue.
This Prothom Alo correspondent found no evidence of the incidents visiting four different spots mentioned in the statements.
SM Faridul Alam, a leader of Agrabad (North) BNP, has been in jail since 26 October. Yet, police filed a case against him for throwing crude bombs on 12 December night.
Police, later, had plead to the court to remove Faridul’s name from the case after a report was published in Prothom Alo on 15 December.
A number of police officer on condition of anonymity told the correspondent that the cases were politically motivated.
“Although no such incident took place ever, hundreds of ‘fictitoius’ cases have been filed since September. Police are arresting BNP leaders and activists in those cases to stop them from participating in the election campaign,” said Ahmad Kamrul Islam Chowdhury, a lawyer defending BNP men.
“Police should never work in favour of any political government. Such practice becomes a barrier to democracy and good governance,” said Akhter Kabir Chowdhury, secretary of Sushasoner Jonno Nagorik's Chattorgam unit.
*This report, originally appeared in Prothom Alo print edition, has been rewritten in English by Farjana Liakat