One of the accused in the Gulshan Holey Artisan militant attack had sent a threatening text message over mobile phone to the investigating officer from within the jail. Before the verdict in the case was announced, the militants even held a meeting within jail to decide that one of the accused, Jahangir Hossain alias Rajiv Gandhi, would admit his guilt in court. In a latest revelation, the police said that the militants got the ‘IS caps’ which they wore when emerging from court, from within the jail.
The police’s Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) officials said that the militants inside the jail keep regular contact with militants outside. Present within the jail, the pro-IS neo-JMB group is being led by Akram Hossain Khan alias Niloy and Aslam Hossain alias Rash. Akram Hossain was arrested in the Hotel Olio International suicidal attack case. Aslam Hossain has been sentenced to death in the Holey Artisan case.
Sources in CCTC have said that around a month ago, Aslam sent a threatening text message over mobile phone to the investigating officer of the Holey Artisan case, Humayun Kabir. He asked Humayun to meet him alone. Police suspect that Aslam used one of the jail guard’s mobile phones to send the message.
Meanwhile, Jahangir Hossain, sentenced to death in the Holey Artisan case, delivered a 45-minute speech after the arguments were presented in court. He admitted to providing the militants for the Holey Artisan attack, but added that the other accused had no idea about the attack and were innocent.
Several senior CCTC officials, on condition of anonymity, have said that Jahangir Hossain is an accused in several murder cases. There was no way that he would be able to evade the death sentence and that is why he tried to save the others in his statement. This decision was taken organisationally and within the jail.
Seven militants were condemned to death on 27 November in the Holey Artisan case. While emerging from the anti-terrorism special tribunal, Rakibul Hasan alias Regan was wearing a cap with the IS emblem. After that, at least four CCTC officials unofficially spoke to Prothom Alo about the militant network within the jail.
The CCTC official said that there is no deradicalisation programme within the jail. Inmates of the same ideological mindset stay together within the jail and regularly hold discussions. They are not properly monitored in court either. That is why, in order to avoid any risk, the accused were shifted from Kasempur to the Keraniganj jail six months before the verdict.
Head of CCTC Monirul Islam refrained from commenting on the issue. However, former inspector general of police Shahidul Huq, told Prothom Alo that the prison management needed to be updated. The prisons could no longer be run in the old manner. But there was a lack of initiative in this regard. According to the rules, prison inmates could only meet visitors in the presence of officials of the police’s special branch and the prison. It seems that this rule was not followed at all times and that is how the prisoners were receiving various items.
The jail authorities have denied any such laxness. Deputy inspector general of the prison directorate, Tipu Sultan, speaking to Prothom Alo on Thursday, said there was no scope for the inmates to use mobile phones within jail or for the militants to hold meetings and mix freely.
Two officials of the jail have blamed the police. They said that the militants get the scope to meet and discuss during the court hearings. They said that they search the accused before they go to court and search them again upon their return. There are also CCTV cameras to monitor their movements. They said that the police’s statement about prisoners using mobile phones within jail is not true.
However, two CCTC officials told Prothom Alo that several militants were arrested since a series of attacks on the police April this year. They recovered a list of areas targetted for attack from the laptop of one of the militants. The arrested militants confirmed that this list came from within the jail.
A certain person arrested under the anti-terrorism act and now out on bail from the high security Kashempur prison, told Prothom Alo that a few rooms comprise a block within the prison. Four inmates stay in each room. They may not be able to go from one floor to the other, but they can talk to persons from other blocks because the cells are opened for a particular span of time during the day.
* This report appeared in the print edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Ayesha Kabir