Jail killing: 10 convicted remain absconding

Syed Nazrul Islam, Tajuddin Ahmad, Captain Mansur Ali and AHM Quamruzzaman (left to right)BSS

Ten of the 11 convicted in the case filed over the brutal killing of four national leaders are still absconding. There is no information about the whereabouts of three of the accused who were sentenced to death in this case. However, two of the accused, who were sentenced to life in prison, are abroad. It has not been possible to bring them back to the country as yet.

On 3 November 1975, the four national leaders - acting president of the government formed during the liberation war Syed Nazrul Islam, prime minister Tajuddin Ahmad, a member of the cabinet Captain M Mansur Ali and AHM Qamaruzzaman were killed in the middle of the night while detained in prison. The case filed over this incident is known as the jail killing case. Some two and a half months before this, the father of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was brutally killed along with his family on 15 August 1975.

The then deputy inspector general (DIG) of prison, Kazi Abdul Awal, filed a murder case with the Lalbagh police station over the incident on 4 November 1975. According to the case statement, some four to five soldiers, led by Risaldar Moslehuddin, entered the prison and opened fire towards the four national leaders. Later, the soldiers confirmed their death by stabbing them with bayonets.

The investigation of this case was stalled for 21 years. The proceedings of the case restarted after Awami League came into power in June 1996. Some 29 years after filing the case, the Metropolitan Session Judge Court announced the verdict of the case. Three of the accused, Risaldar Moslehuddin, Dafadar Marfat Ali Shah and Dafadar Md Abul Hashem Mridha, were sentenced to death and 12 other convicts were sentenced to lifetime imprisonment.

These 12 convicts are Lt Col Syed Faruque Rahman, Lt Col Sultan Shahriar Rashid Khan, Major (retired) Mohammad Bazlul Huda, Major (retired) AKM Mohiuddin Ahmed, Col (retired) Khondakar Abdur Rashid, Lt Col (retired) Shariful Haque Dalim, Col (retired) MB Noor Chowdhury, Lt Col (retired) AM Rashed Chowdhury, Major (retired) Ahmed Shariful Hossain, Capt (retired) Abdul Majed, Capt (retired) Kismat Hashem and Capt (retired) Nazmul Hossain Ansar.

Later, four convicts – Syed Faruque Rahman, Sultan Shahriar Rashid Khan, Mohammad Bazlul Huda and AKM Mohiuddin Ahmed (lancer), who were sentenced to life in prison, appealed against the verdict of the trial court at the High Court (HC). They were acquitted from lifetime imprisonment. However, the HC upheld the verdict of lifetime imprisonment for eight other accused. Besides, accused Dafadar Marfat Ali Shah and Dafadar Md Abul Hashem Mridha were acquitted from the case in the verdict of the High Court. However, the Appellate Division upheld their death sentence given by the trial court.

Although Syed Faruque Rahman, Sultan Shahriar Rashid Khan, Mohammad Bazlul Huda and AKM Mohiuddin Ahmed (lancer) were acquitted from the jail killing case, they were hanged in the Bangabandhu murder case.

Lastly on 11 April, 2020, Capt (retired) Abdul Majed, who was sentenced to death in the Bangabandhu murder case, was executed. He was also sentenced to lifetime imprisonment in the jail killing case.

Two convicts in the jail killing case - Col (retired) MB Noor Chowdhury is staying in Canada and Lt Col (retired) AM Rashed Chowdhury is in USA at the moment. The government has been trying to bring them back for many days.

According to a report of BSS, prime minister Sheikh Hasina, while addressing a programme in the US in September, said that the US had been requested to send Rashed Chowdhury back to Bangladesh.

Meanwhile, Canadian high commissioner Lily Nicholls paid a courtesy call on law minister Anisul Huq at the secretariat on Tuesday. In the meeting, the law minister requested Canada to find an alternative way to send Noor Chowdhury back.

Speaking to the newspersons after the meeting, the law minister said, “We have discussed the possible ways to send back Bangbandhu’s killer Noor Chowdhury to Bangladesh. The high commissioner said that it is not possible to extradite a death sentence convict to other countries under Canadian law. I requested them to find an alternative way. I have told her, giving shelter to a killer is also a violation of human rights. The high commissioner said she would inform the Canadian government of this issue.” 

Rajshahi city mayor, AHM Khairuzzaman, son of one of the four national leaders AHM Qamaruzzaman, told Prothom Alo on Tuesday that, “I also demand the execution of death sentences of the killers of four national leaders like the other members of the family of the four national leaders.”

“I am spending my days in hope. It cannot be said that justice has been served unless the verdict is executed. The government is trying to bring them back and execute the verdict. I hope that the government will be successful in this regard,” he added.

*This report appeared on the print and online versions of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Ashish Basu