After implicating a dead man of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) in a ‘cocktail blast’ incident in the capital, police in several upazilas of Bogura district filed cases against the BNP men, who have been outside the country for several months.
Khairul Bashar, former secretary of Majhira union unit of BNP in Shajahanpur upazila of the district, was accused in a case for holding a conspiratorial meeting against the government at the upazila BNP office on 2 September.
Thirty more BNP leaders and activists and 30 other unnamed persons were also accused in the case. Police claimed they had recovered fresh cocktail explosives during a raid at the BNP office on the day.
However, Khairul Bashar was not in the country at that time. “My parents went to Saudi Arabia on 2 August to perform hajj,” Khairul’s daughter Millati Jahan told Prothom Alo on Tuesday.
Bashar, who returned home Thursday, told this reporter over mobile phone that the case was politically motivated.
A certain Rubel Hossain from Nanglu village in Dhunat upazila of the district went gone to Malaysia seven months ago. Police filed a case against him and 17 other BNP men on 8 September claiming that he was present in a meeting at Sonahata Bazar of the upazila on 7 September night planning to commit sabotage.
Another accused in the case is 86-year-old Abdul Khalek. The octogenarian has been suffering from paralysis for one and a half months, his wife said.
Dhunat police station officer-in-charge (OC) Khan Md Irfan said if someone is found innocent in the investigation, the person will be dropped from the charge sheet.
Nine cases have been filed, mostly against the BNP and its associate bodies’ leaders and activists, in different upazilas of the district in the last nine days under explosives act and on allegations of vandalism and sabotage. Police filed seven of those cases while two were filed by local leaders of ruling Bangladesh Awami League (AL).
Five Prothom Alo correspondents talked to local people and found the incidents and the places stated in case statements were false.
Local leaders of the BNP termed the cases false and said these were filed to harass them before the 11th parliamentary polls.
However, superintendent of police in Bogura Md Ali Ashraf Bhuiyan told Prothom Alo that the cases under the explosives act don’t have link with the national elections.
“Those were filed for specific charges. The innocent will be excluded from the charge sheet,” he added.
On 8 September, upazila unit BNP joint convener Shariful Islam and 20-25 unnamed people were accused in a case filed with Shajahanpur police station for “planning sabotage”.
Acting on a tip off, police seized explosives from his house, the law enforcement claimed.
But, more than 15 people said Shariful does not stay at his house in Mostail Bazar.
Another accused in the case is Mokhlesur Rahman, Shajahanpur thana unit BNP joint convener. His brother Belal Hossain said Mokhlesur Rahman and his wife went to perform hajj and are yet to return.
In response to questions about discrepancies in the cases, Shajahanpur police station officer-in-charge Zia Latiful Islam said they filed the case after talking to a number of witnesses.
If anyone is found not involved with the incident, his name will be excluded from the charge sheet, the OC added.
Nashipur union AL leader Moniruzzaman filed a lawsuit against Gabtoli upazila chairman Morshed Liton, BNP chairperson’s adviser Helaluzzaman and 132 other under explosives act with Gabtoli model police station on 8 September.
The case statement said the accused chanted instigating slogans against the government and prime minister Sheikh Hasina from a motorcycle procession at Bagbari Bazar of the upazila on 7 September night and blasted crude bombs.
An accused in the case is Bagbari SU Bahumukhi Fazil Madrasa principal Abdur Rahim. Prothom Alo came to know from the madrasa that the principal has been in Dhaka since 3 September for a training programme organised by the education ministry. He will stay there until 24 September.
Another case was filed by the upazila’s Kagoil union AL convener Shafi Ahmed against 62 BNP men and 50 unnamed people on 5 September. An accused in the case is Saiful Islam, who has been in Saudi Arabia for a few years.
Gabtoli upazila chairman Morshed Liton said the incidents of those cases are false.
Statement of another case, filed with Sherpur police station on 5 September night, said the BNP men held a secret meeting at their local office. But the address of the office by the Chandipur-bound road in Bhabanipur union of the upazila was found non-existent.
The case’ investigation officer sub-inspector Ebad Ali Molla said local BNP leader GM Mostafa Kamal’s house is the party’s local office.
Contradicting the police claim, villagers said former union parishad chairman Mostafa Kamal is unwell and the BNP men do not attend the office regularly.
Sherpur police station OC Humayun Kabir said truth will be revealed once the investigation is completed.
Besides, Dupchanchia unit BNP’s 23 leaders and activists and 30 unnamed people were accused in a case filed on 5 September, 33 men of BNP and Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami were sued in Nandigram upazila on 9 September, and seven BNP men and 25 unnamed were sued in Bogura sadar police station on 2 September on charge of holding clandestine meeting against the government.
Bogura district BNP president Saiful Islam alleged the BNP men are being made accused in false cases so that the ruling Awami League can smoothly hold one-sided national elections like that of 5 January 2014.
*The report, published in print edition of Prothom Alo, has been rewritten in English by Shameem Reza