Former finance minister and Awami League leader Shah AMS Kibria was killed in a grenade attack at a party rally in Habiganj on 27 January 2005. Kibria’s nephew Shah Manjurul Huda, local AL leader Abdur Rahim, Abul Hossain and Siddiq Ali were also killed in the attack. The trial process lingers on as witnesses don’t turn up in court regularly. Shah AMS Kibria’s son economist Reza Kibria, who is the president of Gono Odhikar Parishad, speaks with Prothom Alo over the delay in the trial of his father’s murder and contemporary politics. Prothom Alo’s Habiganj correspondent Hafizur Rahman took the interview.
How do you see the delay in the trial process of your father’s murder?
My father was killed in a grenade attack in Habiganj 18 years ago. We, the family members, have been demanding a fair investigation and justice over the murder but it remains elusive for the last 18 years. The people of the country are perhaps well aware of the reason of such delay in the trial. Of that period, BNP (Bangladesh Nationalist Party) was in power for two years, the caretaker government for two years and current Awami League is in power for 14 consecutive years. Why they all failed to deliver the justice? The people of the country can assume why none wants to deliver justice.
Are you hopeful of getting justice over this murder?
We do not expect a fair investigation or trial of this murder during the tenure of incumbent government. It remains to be seen what happens during the next government’s tenure but I think there would be an opportunity for investigation free from political influence. We, our family have to wait. There are hundreds of such families who have been victims of political killings in these 14 years. They all are suffering. They will have to wait a little longer.
Why don’t you have confidence in the investigation?
We have been repeatedly saying two questions have to be answered -– who is the real mastermind of this killing and what is the source of the grenade used for the killing? But the police and government do not have any interest to find answers to these questions. These two issues are rather complex.
What can be the motive behind killing Shah AMS Kibria?
My father had many enemies. He thwarted many instances of corruption during his tenure as finance minister. He stood in the way of the corruption of many Awami Leaguers and some businessmen belonging to the party. Thus he made many enemies. Secondly, some persons enjoyed many benefits after his murder. Everyone knows the names of those beneficiaries. The people of Habiganj know them very well. They will face the music one day but they still remain at large. We have been waiting for 18 years and will wait some more days. Insha Allah, someday we will get justice.
Your mother Asma Kibria had faced many ordeals demanding justice over your father’s murder. Would you share her struggle?
My mother took to the streets on 83 occasions demanding justice for the murder. She would take to the streets every Thursday holding ‘Shantir Pokkhe Nilima’ event wearing blue saree. She continued that for a long time. I wish no one has to take to the streets again. If we can identify the real killers, perhaps no one will have to take to the streets demanding justice for their near ones.
Your father Shah AMS Kibria was involved with Awami League politics. Why do you keep aloof from Awami League politics?
My father used to do politics out of some principles. Awami League has been gradually distancing itself from those principles. They are in power undermining the people’s right to vote. This proves that the current Awami League is not the same as it was during my father’s time. This party has become like a gang of bandits who are oppressing the people and unleashing loot by holding people hostage.
What is people’s reaction to Gono Odhikar Parishad? What is the party thinking ahead of the next general election?
We are getting good responses from the people. People, especially the young generation, are looking at us. They are dissatisfied with the politics they witnessed in the last 51 years. They want new trends in politics. We are facing many obstacles from Awami League and the government. We are not allowed to hold rallies in auditoriums or open fields. But the situation is getting improved a bit.
Will your party take part in the national election? Will you contest the polls alone or as a component of the BNP-led alliance?
This decision will be taken before the election. But it is clear that we would not take part in any election held under a partisan government. There is no point in taking part in the election under Awami League government. There cannot be any election under those who cling to power flexing muscle and resorting to fraudulence.
Which constituency do you want to contest the polls from?
I don’t think of any constituency other than my father’s birthplace Habiganj-1 (Nabiganj-Bahubal). But the decision would be taken shortly before the election. It would be better for me to contest from that constituency.
What is your expectation from the people of Habiganj?
They had shown a lot of love and sympathy to my father. I believe they love me too. My father had many unfinished works, which I want to complete taking the people with me. I hope they would give me this chance.
* The interview has been rewritten in English by Galib Ashraf