The organising secretary of BNP’s Jamalpur town unit, Mominur Rahman, was arrested on the night of 29 August.
He has been languishing behind bars since then as he was charged in a sabotage case and sent to jail on the following day.
In a surprising twist, the police claimed in a new case filed on 2 September that Mominur went to a playground in Jamalpur district town on 1 September to carry out a sabotage.
If the detective branch (DB) of police's statement is true, Mominur fled the prison and attended a secret meeting in the playground. But the reality contradicts with the narrative as the jail authorities confirmed the BNP leader was in the prison during the incident.
Asked about the issue, the jailer of Jamalpur district jail, Abu Fatah, told Prothom Alo on 3 September that Mominur Rahman has been in jail for four days since 30 August.
How does an imprisoned Mominur attempt to carry out subversive activities? Mushfiqur Rahman, officer in-charge of Jamalpur DB, tried to defend their stance, citing a minor confusion in the BNP leader’s father’s name.
“There are two cases against him (Mominur). In the former one, his father was named as late Shah Feroz Mia and his village as Phulbaria (Jigatola). The following case named his father as late Feroz Mia and the village as Jigatola,” he said, adding they are verifying if the names pertain to the same individual.
Mominur is one of over 2,000 BNP men in Jamalpur who have been accused of similar offences by the police in the past 36 days. The BNP leaders claimed all the cases filed against the BNP men to be ‘fictitious.’ According to them, the cases have been filed over the incidents that never have taken place.
The statements and legal provisions of the cases are strikingly similar. In fact, the only motive behind the cases is to harass the BNP men, they said.
The police filed the 30 cases in seven upazilas, including Jamalpur Sadar, between 29 July and 2 September, accusing a staggering 651 leaders and activists of the de facto opposition, along with 1,591 unnamed ones.
Two correspondents of Prothom Alo visited the ten sites mentioned in the cases on 1, 2, and 3 September. Conversations with locals, including several witnesses, revealed that there was no incident of sabotage, or vandalising vehicles.
The locals said they did not see any evidence of vandalism or sabotage in the sites. They saw no BNP men nor any other people gather at the mentioned spots during the time.
Shafiqul Islam Khan, organising secretary of Jamalpur district BNP, said around 40 leaders and activists of BNP are now in jail in the district.
Made witnesses through intimidation
There is a playground in the south of Aqaba Aliya Madrasah in Sardarpara, the bustling heart of Jamalpur town. Other businesses also surround the playground.
On the night of 30 July, some miscreants, affiliated with BNP and its associate bodies, gathered in the playground at 11:15 pm, to carry out subversive activities.
Being tipped off, six sub-inspectors (SI) and eight assistant sub-inspectors (ASI) from the Sadar police station reached the spot at 11:45 pm. The miscreants sensed their presence and attempted to flee, but the police managed to detain 12 BNP men, including the publicity secretary of Jamalpur district BNP, Emran Hossain.
‘Fictitious’ cases being filed again
The following day on 31 July, Jamalpur Sadar police station sub-inspector Md Nazrul Islam filed a case. The above description was taken from the case statement. Two witnesses signed in the case statement, and police took their signatures by intimidation. Md Ruhul Amin is one of the witnesses and he is the witness no. 1 while Md Azizul Islam is the witness no. 2. They both gave written statements at the Jamalpur district and session judge court on 16 August.
In the statement, the witness no. 1 wrote, “I am the witness no. 1 of the list of seized items in this case. I was not present during the recovery of eight locally-made unexploded crude bomb-like objects, 25 brick chips and 25 bamboos from the open space in the south side of Akaba Alia Madrasah at 11:55 pm on 30 July. My house is on the south side of the spot. Nobody gathered in that open space on that night. To the best of my knowledge, the accused were not arrested from the spot and they were arrested from their houses. The investigating officer took my signature on the list of seizures by intimidation. In fact, nobody gathered at the place mentioned in the case. I consciously, knowingly and willingly summited this written statement to the court.”
Witness no. 2, Md Azizul Islam also summited more or less a similar written statement to the court
Asked, Md Ruhul Amin told Prothom Alo, “The plaintiff of the case, SI Nazrul Islam is known to him. He asked me over the mobile phone to come out of my house and then told me to become the witness in that case. At first, I said no. I told him that since nothing happened here, would I not be in a problem? The SI told me if anything happens I will help you. After that, I became the witness, but the truth is nobody was there at that time, and I do not know any of them either. Later, I personally gave the affidavit in the court.”
Md Azizul Islam, who is witness no. 2 in the case, said the police came to him at 3:00 am of that day and instructed him to sign a paper". Police told me 'Sign it, nothing will happen to you.' Later they took my signature, but I have no idea about that incident,” he said.
Regarding the allegation, SI Nazrul Islam told Prothom Alo, “Those two witnesses are lying indeed, and what we have found is that they have voluntarily signed as witnesses."
Of the 30 cases filed over the last month, six were with Jamalpur Sadar police station, seven with Sarisabari, four each with Dewanganj and Melandha and three each with Madarganj, Islampur and Bakshiganj police stations.
In most cases, police mentioned that leaders and activists of BNP gathered in a place to hold secret meetings in order to carry out sabotage, violence, arson and anarchy at various government and private offices and power stations, and the accused were arrested from the spots later.
Two correspondents of Prothom Alo visited the places, mentioned in the statements of 10 cases.
I have been named in the case filed on 30 August, but I was in Dhaka on that day. Yet I was made an accused. Six cases were filed with Sadar upazila police station in the last month and all of them were false cases.
They spoke to locals and persons, whose names have come up in case statements. They could tell nothing about the gatherings of BNP or the activities of the law enforcement agencies.
Prothom Alo correspondents spoke to several locals on the playground adjacent to Miftahul Jannat Mohila Madrasha opposite to Sikder Power Plant in the Shahapur area of Jamalpur town on 3 September.
A certain Ridoy Mia was arrested in possession of two unexploded crude bombs from this playground around 9:15pm on 1 September.
By interrogating him, police found 25 BNP leaders-activists fled the spot. These BNP men came to hold a secret meeting to carry out sabotage, according to the case statement.
Detective branch of the district police sub-inspector Mohammd Sazzad filed the case under the Explosive Substances Act and the Special Power Act, and 25 people were named and 40 unidentified ones were made accused in the case.
Speaking to people adjacent to Miftahul Jannat Mohila Madrasa and the nearby areas, no sign of gathering or sabotage attempt was found on the night of 1 September.
The madrasa is to the south of the spot. The superintendent of the madrasa, Md Helal Uddin told Prothom Alo that there was neither any gathering nor any people at the playground from dawn to dusk on 1 September.
He did not see any member of law enforcement agencies coming here either.
Helal said he also heard about the incident from this correspondent for the first time.
A playground to the south of Akaba Alia Madrasa in Sardarpara of Jamalpur municipality was mentioned as the spot in another case filed on 31 July.
The case statement was almost similar as it says miscreants gathered to carry out sabotage.
Jamalpur Sadar police station sub-inspector Nazrul Islam filed the case under the Explosive Substances Act and the Special Power Act, and 30 people were named and 50 unidentified people were made accused in the case.
Prothom Alo correspondents visited the spot in the morning of 2 September and spoke to people in this area. No one said they heard or saw anything such. There is a food shop at the entrance of the playground. The shopkeeper said he neither saw anyone gathering nor any law enforcement agencies conducting raids on this playground from evening to 11:00 am on 31 July.
There is a playground to the west of Jogbandhu Government Primary School in Jamalpur town and it has been mentioned as the incident spot in the case filed on 30 August. The district police’s detective branch SI MD Abu Raihan filed the case under the Explosive Substances Act and the Special Power Act, and 26 people were named and 50 unidentified people were made accused in the case.
There is a grocery shop adjacent to the playground. Its owner told Prothom Alo on the afternoon of 2 September, “He neither saw anyone gathering nor any police team coming here.” After speaking to several more people, the incident described in the case statement was not found to be true.
There is an abandoned ground adjacent to the now-closed Ananta cinema in Sharifpur union of Jamalpur Sadar upazila and it was mentioned as the spot in the case filed on 23 August.
Jamalpur Sadar police station sub-inspector Md Anwarul Islam filed the case under the Explosive Substances Act and the Special Power Act, and 18 people were named and 30 unidentified people were made accused in the case.
You have many things, but I did not even receive a phone call from any family that they have been made witness forcefully or harassed.
Nothing was found as per the description of the case statement after talking to people from neighbouring areas in the afternoon of 2 September.
There is a shop of auto-rickshaw spare parts on the eastern side of the ground. Its owner said, “I neither saw nor heard about any gathering or any police raid here since the morning to the night.”
Leaders and activists of BNP planned to gather on the playground of the Barrister Abduds Salam Talukder High School in Chataria in Sarishabari on 29 August.
Sarishabari police station sub-inspector Abdul Hannan filed the case under the Explosive Substances Act and the Special Power Act, and 15 people were named and 40 unidentified people were made accused in the case.
Fazal Ali, 55, who lives near the school, told Prothom Alo on 2 September, “We live here and no party held a gathering on this school ground over the last month.”
According to a case statement, leaders and activists of BNP and Jamaat gathered in front of the Siancharpar Jor Bridge in Sarishabari on 17 August. Sarishabari police station sub-inspector Shibbir Ahmed filed the case under the Explosive Substances Act and the Special Power Act, and 12 people were named and 60 unidentified people were made accused in the case.
There is a shop near the bridge. Its owner Amir Hossain said on 2 September nothing such event took place here on that night and no party had held a meeting here for long either.
Statement of police
Regarding the filing of 30 cases against leaders and activists of BNP, Jamalpur’s superintendent of police (SP) Md Kamruzzaman told Prothom Alo, “These cases were filed on specific allegations of violence or sabotage attempts and acts of terrorism and the accused had pre-plans to carry out anarchy in Jamalpur. We thought they were not doing right. So, we accepted the cases in order to protect lives and properties of people.”
A BNP leader, Mominur Rahaman is behind bars now. Yet, he has been named in one of these cases. Regarding this, the SP said, “I am not aware of the matter and we have to investigate it.”
Regarding the taking of witnesses’ signatures through intimidation, Kamruzzaman said, “You have many things, but I did not even receive a phone call from any family that they have been made witness forcefully or harassed.”
Statement of BNP leaders
BNP’s Jamalpur district unit general secretary Shah Md Wares Ali Mamun told Prothom Alo, “Our leaders and activities have faced fictitious cases from time to time. Twelve leaders and activists were arrested the day after the incumbent SP joined the office and fictitious cases were filed against them. More than 30 cases have been filed across the district and charges are more or less similar.”
BNP’s district unit organising secretary Shafiqul Islam Khan told Prothom Alo, “I have been named in the case filed on 30 August, but I was in Dhaka on that day. Yet I was made an accused. Six cases were filed with Sadar upazila police station in the last month and all of them were false cases.”
A rights activist from Jamalpur told Prothom Alo on Wednesday that this is a gross violation of human rights to harass the opposition sides by filing cases in such a way.
Victims’ families alleged that police are harassing leaders and activists of the opposition by filing fictitious cases, rights activists said adding this is not the language of democracy.
Shafiqul Islam from Sarisabari, Jamalpur contributed to reporting.
This report appeared in the print and online editions of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Mishbahul Haque and Hasanul Banna.