• Tuesday, Mar 09, 2021
  • Last Update : 04:37 am

Wrongly incarcerated Arman released after 5 years

  • Published at 09:51 am January 22nd, 2021
Arman Bihari
Arman Bihari walks out of Kashimpur jail in Gazipur after languishing for five years following his wrongful arrest by the police. The photo was taken on Thursday, January 21, 2021 Dhaka Tribune

He was released from the Kashimpur jail on Thursday afternoon

Arman Bihari, who had been languishing in Gazipur's Kashimpur Central Jail (Part 2) for the last five years following his wrongful arrest by police, has been released finally upon the order of the High Court.

He was released from the jail around 3pm on Thursday after scrutinizing the documents reached from the High Court on Wednesday night, confirmed Deputy Jailer Ali Afzal.

Arman, who was an artisan at Benaroshi Palli in Dhaka's Pallabi, had been in jail in a narcotics case for five years because his father and the culprit’s father coincidentally shared the same name, Afzal added.

On December 31, 2020, the High Court ordered the inspector general of police (IGP) and commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) to provide Tk20 lakh as compensation to Arman within 30 days.

The bench of Justice Md Mozibur Rahman Miah and Justice Mohi Uddin Shamim passed the order after declaring the imprisonment of Arman illegal and unconstitutional.

The High Court also ordered to free Arman immediately and asked the Police Bureau of Investigation (PBI) to submit a report within three months after investigation.

Besides, the High Court asked the authorities concerned to attach the then officer-in-charge of Pallabi police station Dadon Fakir, the police station's then inspector (investigation) Nazrul Islam, investigating officer of the case Sirajul Islam Khan, and sub-inspector (SI) Russel to the police lines.

Barrister Humayun Kabir Pallab stood for the petitioner while Deputy Attorney General Nouroz M Russel Chowdhury represented the state.

On April 18, 2019, a local newspaper ran a report titled "Another Jahalam in prison." Human rights organization "Law and Life Foundation" moved the court and attached the report with its petition.

On April 23, 2019, the High Court issued a rule seeking documents of the case. It also issued a rule asking the government to explain why the imprisonment of Arman should not be declared illegal.

According to the newspaper report, Detective Branch of police, in a drive, detained suspected drug dealer Shahabuddin Bihari and his two aides with 40 bottles of phensedyl in Pallabi area of the capital on August 30, 2005. 

Later a case was filed in this regard with the Pallabi police station. Police submitted a charge sheet against the three on September 18 of the same year.

While the case was at trial, Shahabuddin secured bail after two years of incarceration on March 5, 2007. He surrendered to the court on January 17, 2011 and again got bail. However, he has been on the run since then.

Also Read - High Court to police: Free Arman, provide 20L as compensation

On October 1, 2012, a tribunal in Dhaka sentenced Shahabuddin and his two associates to 10 years' imprisonment with Tk5,000 fine for each.

The tribunal also issued an arrest warrant for fugitive Shahabuddin.

Following the arrest warrant, on January 27, 2016, then SI Russel of Pallabi police station arrested Arman instead of the fugitive convict because of matching fathers' names. 

Police produced him before the court on January 29. The court then sent Arman to Kashimpur jail where he was prisoner number 3848.

In the latest development, the Appellate Division in January this year stayed the High Court order that asked police to compensate Arman.

Meanwhile, Arman and his relatives demanded exemplary punishment of the perpetrators for his wrongful detention and incarceration.

The story of Jahalam

On February 4, 2019, jute factory worker Jahalam—who spent the last three years behind bars after being wrongfully accused in 33 corruption cases—was released from jail following a High Court order.

Jahalam was arrested on February 6, 2016 after being mistaken for Abu Salek, the original accused in 33 cases that the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) had filed in 2014, over loan fraud and embezzlement of Tk18.5 crore from Sonali Bank Limited.

When the ACC sent for Salek, the summons, however, went to Jahalam. Jahalam met with officials of the anti-corruption watchdog, and insisted that he was not Salek.

He also told the ACC that the photo used to open the Sonali Bank account was not his either. 

However, the bank's officials still identified him as Salek, and the jute mill worker was eventually arrested in Ghorashal following ACC's green light. 

On May 27 the same year, he was transferred to Dhaka Central Jail.

Despite appearing in front of the court many times since, Jahalam did not receive bail. Identifying Jahalam as Salek in 26 of the 33 cases, the ACC submitted charge sheets, and the cases started being processed in court.

However, several media reports brought the matter of Jahalam's innocence to the ACC's attention, after which, the ACC investigated the matter further.

Upon further investigation, the ACC found Jahalam's claims of innocence to be true.

On February 3, 2019, after a legal process, the High Court passed a ruling over the illegality of his imprisonment and directed the jail authorities to immediately release Jahalam. He was freed after three long years.

On September 30, 2020, the High Court directed the Brac Bank authorities to pay Jahalam Tk15 lakh as compensation within 30 days after the bank mistakenly identified him as Abu Salek in a case filed over fund misappropriation by the Anti-Corruption Commission.

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