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No headway to probe

Bangladesh on 05 May 2014
Location : Bangladesh | Source : The Daily Star; image souce: The Daily Star

Police failed to make any headway in any of the 42 cases in which more than 50,000 leaders and activists of Hefajat-e Islam and Jamaat-e-Islami were made accused for creating anarchy in the capital's Motijheel on May 5 last year.

Around 17,000 men of Hefajat and Jamaat-Shibir stand accused in several other cases filed in Bagerhat and Chittagong in connection with the incidents of violence that left seven people dead on that day. These cases are also facing the same fate.

None of the police administration could give any timeline for the completion of investigations and submission of charge sheets in these cases.

Of the 42 cases, 33 were filed with Paltan Police Station, six with Motijheel Police Station and three with Shahbagh Police Station. Seven of them were lodged as murder cases.
Police, government officials, relatives of the victims, Islamist leaders, businessmen, shop owners, employees of different establishments and political parties filed the cases.

Hefajat men, aided by Jamaat and BNP supporters, carried out vandalism in the capital on May 5, setting fire to hundreds of shops, police outposts and business establishments.

Although Hefajat claimed that 2000 of its leaders and activists were killed, the government's death figure stood at 13 only. Hefajat could not provide names and addresses in support of their claim.

Meanwhile, some of those, who had been arrested in connection with the cases, were later released on bail. They are now moving scot-free.

Hefajat's General Secretary Junaid Babunagari, the main accused in sub-inspector Shahjahan murder case, was arrested on May 6. He was released on bail on May 29 on health ground.

Shahjahan was killed during a clash between Hefajat men and law enforcers at Motijheel.

During an interrogation in police remand, Babunagari gave a confessional statement disclosing the involvement of activists of Hefajat, Jamaat, BNP and its front organisations in the anarchy.

Asked about the reason behind the poor progress of investigation, Tofayel Ahamed, inspector (Investigation) of Paltan police, said "A large number of unknown persons were made accused in the cases.

"It is very difficult to trace them all. Recording the statements of witnesses is also a lengthy process."

Although no headway was made in the cases, nine police officers were rewarded for handling the situation on May 5.
Some BNP leaders, including Moudud Ahmed and Sadeque Hossain Khoka, were also shown arrested in the cases. But most of them got bail.

Harun bin Izhar Chowdhury, son of Hefajat's nayeb-e-ameer Mufti Izharul Islam, was also arrested. But he was later released on bail.

Masudur Rahman, deputy commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP), said they were still watching video footages to detect persons involved in the vandalism on that day.
"At the same time, we are looking for persons accused in the cases," he told The Daily Star.

He added, different types of cases were filed in connection with the incident and investigation into all these cases would be time-consuming.

The administration, however, has taken a divide-and-rule policy to tackle the Islamist party's future movement.

A minister, who maintains communication between the ruling alliance and Hefajat, said the Islamist party would not try to orchestrate any May 5 like violence in the future.

"The party, however, will occasionally arrange rallies and processions apparently to show off its strength," he told The Daily Star, preferring not to be named.

Khelafat Andolan, a component of Hefajat, has planned to bring out a protest procession in the capital today to observe the day.

Maulana Abul Kasem Kasemi, international affairs secretary of Khelafat Andolan, told The Daily Star that they had sought permission from DMP to hold the procession.

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