Accused of murder, member of parliament Amanur Rahman Khan has been staying in an air conditioned room at Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) for about four months.
He has been reportedly staying there on one excuse or the other.
Other than Amanur’s wife and children, two BCL (Bangladesh Chhatra League) leaders are constantly staying there with him, reports say. He has been given special privilege to keep two ‘private nurses’, with approval of the jail superintendent.
His regular life, including political activities, continues uninterrupted in the hospital, informed sources said.
Amanur, a member of parliament from AL from Tangail-3 constituency, has been accused of the murder of Awami League (AL) leader and freedom fighter Faruk Ahmed from Tangail. Amanur was a fugitive for 22 months after his indictment.
Finally, he surrendered to the court on 18 September last year. But, most of the time he remained in hospital while being accused in 47 lawsuits including 5 murder cases filed at different police stations in Tangail.
While Amanur lives it up in hospital, the victim’s family is counting days for justice. Nahar Ahmed, Faruk Ahmed’s wife, told Prothom Alo on Thursday, five years since the killing, there was no justice and the murderer simply basked in hospital on different pretexts.
Advocate of the plaintiff, S Akbar Khan said Amanur’s stay at the hospital was just a ploy to prolong the trial.
According to reports, Amanur avoided appearing in court eight times, causing a 10-month delay to file allegations. On the ninth date, he was taken to the court and a charge-sheet was filed.
But, later again, he was absent at three dates in court. The next date is on 22 January.
Physicians at the hospital said, Amanur was coming to the hospital with one medical complaint after the other. At first he spoke of urological problems and later he was admitted with fistula.
Now he claims to have heart disease. They added it was due to his power that he had occupied the cabin and been staying there for months.
Last week at Amanur’s DMCH cabin no. 40, this reporter found several pairs of shoes outside the door, with the door locked from inside. Voices inside were audible. The police constable on duty there said, “People and businessmen from his area come and fill the verandas.” As to whether this was unlawful, the constable exclaimed, ‘What are you saying! Their party is in power -- who will stop them?”
On Sunday, several persons were seen coming out of the cabin and as this reporter asked them their identity, one of them said, “We are party men.”
One of the constables said, “VIPs and family members come every day. He (Amanur) doesn’t eat hospital meals. His wife and children stay with him.”
Again on Monday a gathering was found there while two police men and jail security were still on duty. When the door opened, Amanur was seen sitting on his bed.
When the jail security force member was asked why a murder case convict was allowed to meet so many people at his cabin, he said, “Whoever has money can do anything. Who’ll stop them? His people create problems if we stop them and threaten me with my job.” He added that, at least a hundred persons come to meet Amanur every day.
Shamim Al Mamun, one of the constant companions to the MP, came out of the cabin and introduced himself as the joint convener of Tangail Chhatra League saying, ‘I look after the MP. Many, including Mamun uncle from Ghatail, are inside. People come to visit him every day. He gets tired.’
As to whether it was lawful to allow people to meet an accused person in police custody, the senior jail super Md. Jahangir Kabir said, ‘It is not possible without the consent of the jail security and police. I’ll be looking into the matter.”
The Dhaka central jail insiders said Amanur was admitted in the DMCH for the first time on 7 February last year. At that time, Tangail jail authority referred him as a ‘urological’ patient. The DMC urology department head at that time, Md. Amanur Rasul told Prothom Alo, Amanur’s urinary tract was cured soon after medication.
Amanur had been later transferred to the surgery division of DMCH again for rectum problems. Eventually, he was taken back to jail again on 9 May following media reports on his lengthy hospital stay.
Once again, on 24 September, Amanur was transferred from the Kashimpur jail to the Dhaka central jail, for a ‘better treatment’ and was admitted to the DMCH.
DMC surgery department head Tapan Kumar Saha told Prothom Alo, “He is completely okay. If it would be any other patient, I would have released him long ago. We don’t keep any patient for over a week after rectal surgery.”
The doctors and officials at the hospital said, Amanur was admitted on 24 September last year for rectal problems. After pathological tests he was prepared for a surgery on 21 October. But he delayed the date for one month reportedly because of his children’s exams.
Lastly, on 22 November the surgery took place and he recovered within a week. But in spite of that, he sought to remain at the hospital and sent a letter to the jail super Mahabubul Islam asking to form a medical board for a medical report.
However, the medical board said he was quite fit. Only one physician suggested an exercise tolerance test (ETT).
Hospital personnel said, Amanur was at last taken to the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University Hospital on Tuesday for an ETT. This time he avoided the test saying his body was too hairy for the test!
Touhidul Islam, deputy inspector general (prisons), said convicts were sent to the hospital on doctor’s reference, but they were returned as soon as treatment was over. If there was any delay, the responsibility lay with the authorities.
*The piece, originally published in Prothom Alo print edition, has been rewritten in English by Nusrat Nowrin.