BNP leaders and activists: Number of convicted crosses 1,000

The police detained a number of BNP leaders and activists from Khalishpur area of KhulnaFile photo

In Dhaka, 49 leaders and activists of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami have received sentences in four additional cases. The Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (CMM) court of Dhaka issued the judgments on Tuesday.

Over the past four and a half months, at least 1026 leaders and activists were sentenced in 67 cases across various courts in Dhaka. The majority of these individuals are associated with BNP, including leaders and workers from the party's and its affiliated organisations.

A few members from Jamaat are also among the convicts. Notably, certain leaders and activists have received sentences in multiple cases.

Meanwhile, the verdict in the corruption case against BNP Standing Committee member Mirza Abbas has been postponed for the second time. Initially scheduled for announcement yesterday, Tuesday, the new date is set for 28 December.

Sentenced in four new cases  

The four cases adjudicated yesterday in the CMM Court of Dhaka were originally filed in 2012, 2013, and 2018. One of the cases was related to an incident in Kamrangirchar, Dhaka. Magistrate Rajesh Chowdhury of Dhaka's CMM Court sentenced 11 individuals to different jail terms ranging from two to six months in this particular case.

According to police reports, on the afternoon of 5 April 2013, an Awami League procession reached the Ashrafabad area of Kamrangirchar. Subsequently, 200 to 300 leaders and activists affiliated with BNP, Jamaat, and its student wing, Islami Chhatra Shibir, allegedly attacked the procession.

On 20 April 2014, the police filed a charge sheet against the 11 accused individuals in the court for the case they initiated. The court officially framed charges against the accused on 2 July 2015, and during the trial, five police witnesses were presented on behalf of the state. 

In a 2012 case from Dhaka's Demra police station, 25 individuals were sentenced to two and a half years in prison by Magistrate Mehdi Hasan of Dhaka's CMM Court yesterday. Additionally, 11 people were acquitted in this case.

The case details state that on 9 December 2012, some 45 leaders and activists from an 18-party alliance, including BNP members, set fire to a CNG-driven auto-rickshaw on Amuliya Road in Demra. Upon receiving this information, when the police arrived at the scene, the alleged miscreants attacked them with machete, sticks, rods and so on with the intent to cause harm.

In this case, the police submitted a charge sheet to the court against 36 individuals on 20 February 2014. The court officially framed charges on 17 September the following year. Among the 30 witnesses in the case, five police witnesses were presented by the state. 

Another case that has been decided is from Pallabi police station in Mirpur. In this 2013 case, Magistrate Mehedi Hasan of the CMM Court in Dhaka sentenced nine individuals to two and a half years in imprisonment, while three were acquitted.

As per the case details, on the night of 5 February 2013, some 120 to 130 Jamaat leaders and workers allegedly set fire to a pickup van on Harun Molla Road in Pallabi, Dhaka. Later, they paraded in support of the hartal and vandalised other vehicles on the road. 

Police submitted a charge sheet against 12 individuals on 29 August in 2013 in the case and the court framed charges on 30 March in 2014. The prosecution produced three witnesses before the court while one of the accused testified at the court claiming their innocence.

The fourth lawsuit, the verdict of which was pronounced, was filed at Bhatara police station in the capital in 2018.

Judge Arafatul Rakib of Dhaka CMM court awarded three years imprisonment each to four people while 12 were acquitted.

The police in the case statement said 75 leaders and activists of BNP and Jamaat-e-Islami were planning sabotage at a secret meeting in Fasertek area in Bhatara on 19 September in 2018. When police went there, they exploded crude bombs.

The police submitted a charge sheet against 16 on 31 May in 2019 in the case and the court indicted them on 11 November in 2020.

The prosecution produced four out of 15 witnesses before the court.

‘Leaders and activists are not getting justice’

BNP leaders and activists are being convicted in one after another lawsuit ahead of the upcoming 12th parliamentary elections. In most cases the jail term is two to three years. So far over 350 have been acquitted from the cases too as the allegations could not be proved against them.

Most of the cases were filed immediately before and after the 10th parliamentary elections in 2014 and before the 11th parliamentary elections in 2018. Most of the cases were filed on charges of illegal gathering, obstructing the police from carrying out duties and attacking them, vandalising vehicles, arson attacks and blasting crude bombs.

Speaking about this, Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Anisul Huq on Friday night said the state has taken initiatives to settle the old cases in a bid to clear the logjam of cases. BNP is not the target here.

Among the convicted are a BNP vice chairman, one joint secretary general and several central leaders of Jubo Dal, Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal and Swechhasebok Dal, front organisations of BNP. The remaining are thana and ward level leaders and activists of Dhaka city BNP. The convicted Jamaat men include active leaders and activists of the party.

BNP alleged that the state is showing promptness to settle the old cases filed against the party leaders and activists with the view to quell their anti-government movement.

The party’s law affairs secretary Kaysar Kamal told Prothom Alo on Tuesday night that this one after another verdicts are to dissuade the active BNP leaders and activists from politics. They are not being served with justice from the court, he concluded.