Dhaka hopeful about bringing back Rashed Chowdhury from US before March 2021, after the US attorney general reopened the fugitive’s asylum case
Three among the five absconding killers of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founding president of the country, still remain to be found, as the government continues efforts to trace them.
On November 19, 2009, the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court, the highest court of the land, upheld the death penalty for 12 convicted former army officers, for the assassination of Bangabandhu and his family on August 15, 1975.
During this period, six self-confessed killers – Syed Farooq Rahman, Sultan Shahriar Rashid Khan, Bazlul Huda, AKM Mohiuddin Ahmed, Mohiuddin Ahmed, and Abdul Majed – were hanged to death.
Among the executed, Abdul Majed, who used to live in Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal, was arrested in Dhaka on April 7 this year, and executed at the Dhaka Central Jail at 12:01am on April 12.
Another convict, Aziz Pasha, met a natural death in Zimbabwe in 2001.
Of the remaining fugitives, Rashed Chowdhury is in the US and Noor Chowdhury in Canada. The whereabouts of Khandaker Abdur Rashid, Shariful Haque Dalim, and Moslehuddin remain unknown.
All the 12 convicts are former personnel of Bangladesh Army.
Last week, Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen said twice – in Gopalganj and Meherpur – that the government hoped at least one of the killers would be brought back before the end of Mujib Year in March 2021.
Although he did not name any name, senior officials concerned have told Dhaka Tribune that he was referring to Rashed Chowdhury, who has been living in the US for a long time.
As the US attorney general reopened the asylum case with respect to Rashed Chowdhury in June after a long time, the government is hoping that his asylum might be revoked and he would be deported.
It is perceived that the case would not have been reopened if the US attorney general was happy with the earlier decision of granting asylum to the fugitive by the immigration judge. So, hope is there, but it is uncertain as to when the legal process will come to an end.
The government has persistently raised the issue with the US government about the repatriation of Rashed Chowdhury.
Canadian law does not allow sending back any foreign national who faces the death penalty in his or her country. So, it is difficult to get back Noor Chowdhury, although the government is trying both diplomatically and legally.
The foreign minister acknowledged that the government does not know the whereabouts of the remaining three absconders, adding that the Bangladesh missions abroad had been instructed to make efforts to trace them. He also called upon the expatriate Bangladeshis to help in this regard.
When contacted, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan told this correspondent: “We are trying to bring back the killers of Bangabandhu. Our law enforcement agencies are in touch with their counterparts in other countries to trace the absconding killers.”
There exists a three-member high-powered taskforce, headed by the law minister, to bring back the Bangabandhu killers. The foreign minister and the home minister are the two other members of the taskforce.
“We have not sat for a long time. We will sit soon,” said the home minister.
The senior officials cited some hurdles like the domestic laws of the countries of residence of the killers, and Bangladesh’s lack of ability in terms of gathering intelligence about the whereabouts of the other fugitives.
Even if the three killers are located, the officials said it was not going to be easy to bring them back due to different practical reasons.
The government is in a kind of a helpless situation in bringing the killers back as things are not under its control, they added.