Opposition men in jail or abroad not spared from being sued

Rajib Shikder was once engaged with the politics of Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal, the student wing of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). He has been living in Bahrain for a decade.

Rajib came to Bangladesh last June and returned to Bahrain on 11 September after spending a three-month vacation in the country.

Yet, Rajib was sued in a case filed over violence and exploding crude bombs on 2 November. Police filed the case with Mohammadpur police station in Magura.

Md Sheikh Shamim is the former organizing secretary of ward No. 54 in Gazipur city unit BNP and Md Saiful Alam Khan is the former organising secretary of ward No. 55.

The duo has been in jail since 26 October in a case filed under the Special Power Act by police. But they were accused in a case filed with Tongi Pashchim police station on 31 October.

The family members termed it as harassment while BNP maintains it is yet another example of fictitious case.

Police, however, said these people were accused based on the information provided by the accused persons arrested from the spot. Their names would be excluded if their connections with the incidents are not found.

Incarcerated, yet accused

On 26 October, Sheikh Shamim and Saiful Alam Khan were arrested in a case filed under the Special Power Act by police. They are now incarcerated yet police sued them alongside 76 other named accused and around 50-60 unnamed accused.

Sub inspector Md Ain Uddin filed the case with Tongi Paschim police station.

Shamim has been listed on number 21 and Saiful on number 52 accused in the case.

According to the case statement, around 130-140 leaders-activists of BNP and Jamaat-e-Islami gathered at the College Gate area on the Dhaka-Mymensingh highway on 30 October night.

They torched a motorbike and vandalized vehicles. They hurled brickchips at the police when they went to the spot. Police arrested six from the spot.

Gazipur city’s court inspector Md Mizanur Rahman Khan said a total of 56 BNP men were arrested from the house of BNP leader Salauddin Sarker for planning subversive activities on 26 October. All the arrestees including Sheikh Shamim and Saiful Alam are still in jail.

Plaintiff of the case did not want to say anything about the case.

Officer-in-charge Md Shakhawat Hossain said if the name of anyone whose involvement is not found during the investigation would be left out.

Tongi Paschim thana BNP’s former president Sheikh Md Alek said police detained Saiful and Shamim from an in-house meeting on 26 October.

Police accused them in a case filed over torching a vehicle but they were in jail while the incident took place.

According to the case statement, the torched motorbike (Dhaka Metro-Ha 264308) has been kept at Tongi Paschim police station. A visit to the police station on Wednesday afternoon revealed that the motorbike is a faded and rusty one with a portion of its seat burned.

According to the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) office in Gazipur, the motorbike is owned by a person named Shahadat Hossain. His address is given at a house on the Road number 10 in the Uttara’s sector 12.

No person with this name was found in the house during a visit at around 2:00pm.

Asked, Tongi Paschim police station’s sub inspector Utpal Kumar Saha said, “We found the motorcycle burning after reaching the spot on information. Who took the motorcycle there and who is the owner is yet to be known. We are investigating.”

2 BCL leaders out of 3 witnesses didn’t see the incident

Police made three persons named Md Shafiq, Deen Mohammad Kawsar Hossain Nirob and Md Mohiuddin witnesses in the case. Shafiq is the president of ruling party student wing Bangladesh Chhatra League’s (BCL) Tongi Paschim unit president and Deen Mohammad is the secretary of the same unit while Mohiuddin is a constable of police.

Asked, Shafiq said he has not seen such incident.

“I don’t have any knowledge of torching or vandalising. I witnessed no such incident in the last 15 days,” Shafiq told Prothom Alo.

When asked then how his name could appear as the witness, Shafiq hung up the call.

Deen Mohammad told Prothom Alo, “We went to the spot hearing about the incident. Later the police took my deposition as I had gone to Tongi Paschim police station. But I didn’t witness any such incident.”

Tongi Paschim police station’s constable Md Mohiuddin could not remember any such incident at first. The constable could only remember the incident when reminded that he was made a witness.

Sued despite staying abroad

Md Makbul Hossain is an agent of Hajj-Umra. He is the former Jamaat ameer (chief) of Gazipur city’s ward No 52. Although he has been staying in Saudi Arabia since 22 October, he was sued in a case filed with Tongi Paschim police station on 2 November.

According to the case statement, some 70-80 leaders-activists of Jamaat gathered at Cherag Ali area on Dhaka-Mymensingh highway on 1 November night and vandalised vehicles. They hurled brickbats to the police. Later police detained several persons from the spot and others fled the scene. Makbul Hossain is accused number 14 in the case.

Local councilor and ward BCL’s former president Md Jahangir Alam told Prothom Alo that Makbul went to Saudi Arabia on 22 October and is still staying there.

Makbul’s brother Manik Hossain claimed his brother is not that much involved with any political party.

“He went abroad for Hajj. Yet he has been sued,” said Manik.

Plaintiff of the case sub inspector Abdul Awal said, “We detained 11 persons from the spot. The names of accused were prepared based on the information provided by them. Names of anyone not present or involved would certainly be excluded from the charge sheet.”

Like Makbul, Rajib from Magura’s Mohammadpur upazila was also abroad while the incident took place.

Rajib has confirmed that he was in Bahrain during the incident.

“I would do Chhatra Dal politics when I was home. Perhaps that’s why someone entered my name from enmity,” Rajib told Prothom Alo over phone.

Rajib’s father Badsha Shikder asked why his son who returned to Bahrain two months prior to the incident was sued.

Police on 2 November sued in a case filed under the Special Power Act. Sub inspector Md Mustafizur Rahman filed the case accusing 199 persons and 100-150 unnamed persons.

In the case statement, the plaintiff said he received information that BNP leaders-activists gathered in front of Dhuail Adarsha Nurani Hafezi Madrasa on Magura-Mohammadpur road. They fled the scene hurling crude bombs to police.

Four people who live near the spot said they did not hear any commotion or cocktail explosion in the area from 11:30pm to 12:30am on that night.

They heard the sound of a cocktail explosion at around 2am that night but did not realise if any people gathered there.

Md Babul Sheikh and Kabul Sheikh have been made witnesses in the case. They told Prothom Alo that they were sleeping when bombs exploded.

Although they woke up to the sound of an explosion, they did not go out of their houses in fear. Police called them outside and took their signatures.

Supreme Court lawyer Shahdeen Malik told Prothom Alo, “The main objective of the criminal justice system is to prevent crime and ensure justice if any crime is committed. Now the criminal justice system is tailored at suppressing the political opponents.”

He said the criminal justice system has been misused as its main objectives were changed.

“In a sense we’ve been transformed into subjects from citizens,” Shahdeen Malik added.