Cases filed under pressure, but no progress on trials

Sheikh Sabiha Alam . Dhaka | Update: | Print Edition

Rajib Hossain’s hand is severed in a collision between two buses at Karwan Bazar area in the capital on 3 April. Photo: Mizanur Rahman KhanAfter reviewing 12 cases on road accidents which occurred in the eight months from 25 February to 26 October last year, Prothom Alo found that only one among them is under trial and charge sheets for two more have been submitted so far.

Police officials related to the cases could not even say when the investigations of the remaining 9 cases would be completed.

Also, the charge sheets were submitted without informing the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs of both the cases did not know anything about the charge sheets, Prothom Alo found out.

Most of the time, cases are filed quickly in the face of pressure, yet no progress is made later.

The case, which is under trial, was filed following the accident in which two college student Rajib and Mim were killed in the capital’s Kurmitola area on 29 July last year.

The incident instigated a student protest in the capital and across the country demanding safe roads.

Several top government officials at the time said in public that the student movement had opened their eyes.

Dhaka metropolitan police commissioner Asaduzzaman Miah said, “The students made the police administration stand on moral ground.”

However, the state of the accident cases indicated otherwise. The question arose whether the police actually stood on moral ground as they are moving at a snail’s pace in arresting the accused and submitting charge sheets for the cases. As a result, the trials of these cases are delayed.

According to the police, there are 26 (2 already dead) accused in the 12 cases. Of them, 13 people still could not be arrested. Five of the 11 arrested are on bail. The police said, two accused were absconding after being released on bail.

Little Akifa posing with her dolls. Akifa was killed as a bus hit her on 31 August. Prothom Alo File PhotoAsked about the delayed case investigation, Nirapad Sarak Chai chairman Ilias Kanchan told Prothom Alo, “This is really sad. We have to remember that providing justice can comfort those who lost their loved ones or who were crippled in road accidents. It is necessary speed up the trial.”

An analysis of the accidents showed, the drivers were driving at reckless speeds in six of the cases while two bus drivers did not have driving licenses. Two of the vehicles did not have fitness certificates while three had no route permits. Also, a truck that caused a fatal accident had a faulty design while two other drivers were using mobile phones while driving.

One of the most discussed accidents was the one of Rajib Hossain who lost his hand and died after two weeks as a BRTC bus was overtaking another bus of Sajan Paribahan on 3 April 2018. Police have failed to submit the charge sheet yet in the case although the accused are in police custody.

Shahbagh police station is investigating another case of traffic police inspector Delwar Hossain, who was injured in the accident. On 16 April last year, driver Nazrul Islam allegedly ran the bus over Delwar’s feet. Police is yet to submit the case charge sheet. 

Meanwhile, the police claimed that they filed charge sheets in the case of Dhaka Tribune official Nazimuddin’s death (17May) and Ayesha Khatun who lost her legs (5 April). But the plaintiffs of the cases, Nazimuddin’s brother in law Mohammad Alim and Ayesha Khatun’s husband Tanjir Ahmed, were not  informed about the charge sheets.

A bus totally destroyed in a crash on Dhaka-Chittagong highway in Narayanganj’s Sonargaon area. Prothom Alo File PhotoIn Kushtia, eight-month-old Akifa was seriously injured when a bus of Ganjaraj Faisal Paribahan hit her while she was crossing the road with her mother. She died on 31 August. Akifa’s father Harun-ur-Rashid filed the case with the Kushtia model police station.

The investigation officer of the case, Sumon Kaderi, told Prothom Alo that both the owner and the driver were arrested and jailed.

“Both of them got bail. The driver was arrested again. He has been absconding since he got bail for the second time. The owner of the bus also ran away,” he added.

He could not confirm to the correspondent when the charge sheet would be filed, as well.

Besides, the only accused bus driver in Sonargaon road crash that claimed 10 lives has not been arrested after the accident took place on 26 February.

Police did not submit the charge sheet of the road crash that took place on 25 August last year in Bonpara area of Natorein which 15 were killed.

Among 12, eight accidents took place in Dhaka (between 3 April and 29 July). The remaining four occurred in Kanchpur of Narayanganj (25 February), Kushtia (28 August), in Bonpara of Natore (25 August) and in Doshmile of Panchagarh (26 October) area.

According to the World Health Organisation’s latest report as many as  24,954 people died in road crashes in Bangladesh in 2016. Bangladesh stands third among the top South Asian countries with highest death tolls in road crashes.

However, the ruling Awami League pledged to reduce the death rate in road accidents in its election manifesto. It vowed to implement the ‘Safe Road Act, 2018.’ Also, the government pledged to take stern action against drivers without licenses, not permitting vehicles without fitness, and following the proper rules for issuing license to the drivers.

*This piece originally published in Prothom Alo print edition has been rewritten in English by Farjana Liakat

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