Investigators find Hawa Bhaban’s role in attack plot; arrest warrant against 18
INVESTIGATORS on Sunday pressed charges against BNP senior Vice chairman Tarique Rahman, former state minister Lutfozzaman Babar, Jamaat-e-Islami secretary general Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojahid, former premier Khaleda Zia’s political secretary Harris Chowdhury and 26 others for 2004 grenade attack on Awami League rally.
Hawa Bhaban, former political office of BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia, different militant organisations and the then administration had collaborated in planning and staging the grisly blasts at an Awami League rally in the capital in 2004, Metropolitan Public Prosecutor Abdullah Abu said quoting the charges.
The attack, which killed 24 leaders and workers and injured around 300 others including the then opposition leader Sheikh Hasina, was carried out to eliminate the AL leadership. The anti-liberation forces had plotted it over a long time, he added.
The PP was talking to reporters after the Criminal Investigation Department submitted the supplementary charge sheets to the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court in Dhaka in the afternoon.
Replying to a query, he said Tarique Rahman, senior vice-chairman of BNP and elder son of party Chairperson Khaleda Zia, was one of the masterminds behind the attack.
During the last BNP-Jamaat rule, when the attack took place, Tarique used to control Hawa Bhaban, which was widely considered an alternative power centre. Harris was political secretary to the then prime minister Khaleda; Babar was state minister for home; and Jamaat-e-Islami Secretary General Mojaheed was social welfare minister.
The Daily Star on October 27, 2009, ran an investigative report, headlined ‘It was Hawa Bhaban Plot’, about the people behind planning and staging the attack.
The metropolitan PP said Hawa Bhaban and the then administration aided and abetted the blasts and let the attackers flee the country. Mojaheed helped the attackers get out of the place of occurrence by arranging for them ambulances of Al-Markajul Islam, a non-government organisation.
The grenades used in the attack came from Pakistan, he added.
Of the 30 named in the supplementary charge sheets, 11 including Babar, Mojaheed and former directors general of National Security Intelligence Major Gen (retd) Rezzaqul Haider Chowdhury and Brig Gen (retd) Abdur Rahim are behind bars; one is out on bail; and the rest 18 including Tarique, Harris, BNP lawmaker Kazi Shah Mofazzal Hossain Kaikobad and former DG of Directorate General of Forces Intelligence Major Gen (retd) ATM Amin have yet to be detained.
In response to a plea from the CID, a metropolitan magistrate’s court issued arrest warrants against the 18 yesterday afternoon.
Two cases were filed in connection with the August 21 carnage–one under explosive substances act and the other for killing people.
Earlier in 2008, the CID submitted charge sheets against 22 people including former BNP deputy minister Abdus Salam Pintu and 21 Huji men including militant kingpin Mufti Hannan.
However, a Dhaka court on August 3, 2009, ordered further probe, as it observed the investigation had failed to unearth the sources of the grenades used and identify the masterminds behind the attack.
The supplementary charge sheets have raised the number of accused in the cases to 52. They list 81 people as witnesses.
CID Inspector Samiul Basit submitted the additional charge sheets on behalf of CID’s Special Superintendent Abdul Kahar Akhand, also investigation officer of the cases.
A CID team under a huge police escort brought the case dossiers to the court in two large trunks.
Before and after submission of the charge sheets, a group of pro-BNP lawyers brought out processions on the court premises. They protested the inclusion of Tarique as an accused.
During the BNP-led four-party alliance rule, the then CID investigators tried to mislead the probe to save the real culprits.
They falsely implicated one Joj Miah.
On March 29, 2009, CID ASP Fazlul Kabir filed a case against three former CID investigators–SSP Ruhul Amin and ASPs Munshi Atiqur Rahman and Abdur Rashid–for attempt to mislead the investigation.