25 others sentenced to life imprisonment, 13 to 10 years in prison
A local court in Pabna has sentenced nine BNP leaders and its affiliates to death in a case filed over the 1994 attack on a train carrying the then opposition leader Sheikh Hasina – nearly 25 years after the incident took place.
Md Rustam Ali, acting judge of Pabna Special Tribunal 3, announced the verdict ina packed courtroom around 12pm on Wednesday.
The death-row convicts were also charged a fine of Tk5 lakh each.
The court sentenced 25 other BNP leaders and activists to life in prison, and fined each of them Tk3 lakh, with an additional two years in jail for defaulting the fine payment.
Thirteen more convicts were sentenced to 10 years in prison charged a Tk1 lakh fine each, with an additional one-year imprisonment for defaulting on the payment.
Out of 52 people accused in the charge sheet, 33 were present during the verdict at the court on Wednesday. Five died during the trial proceedings, and the 14 others remain in hiding.
All the convicts were activists and leaders of BNP, its youth wing Jatiyatabadi Jubo Dal, and student front Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal, based in Pabna’s Ishwardi upazila when the attack took place.
The death-row convicts are: former mayor and president of BNP’s Ishwardi municipality unit Moklesur Rahman Bablu, BNP’s Pabna district unit Liberation War Affairs Secretary AKM Aktaruzzaman, BNP’s Ishwardi municipality unit General Secretary Zakaria Pintu, Jubo Dal’s Ishwardi municipality unit President Mostofa Nur-e Alam, and BNP leaders Mahbubul Rahman Palash, Shamsul Alam, Shahidul Islam, Rezaul Karim, and Azizur Rahman.
Among them, Zakaria Pintu is on the run.
The convicts sentenced to life imprisonment are: Aminul Islam (on the run), Azad Hossain Khokon, Ismail Hossain Jewel, Alauddin Bishwas, Shamsur Rahman Shimu, Anisur Rahman Sekam (on the run), Akkel Ali, Md Robi (on the run), Md Enam, Abul Kashem Halot (on the run), Kala Babu (on the run), Mamun 1 (on the run), Mamun 2 (on the run), Selim, Kallol, Tuhin, Shah Alam Liton, Abdullah Al Mamun Ripon, Laiju (on the run), Abdul Jabbar, Palash, Hakim Uddin Tenu, Alamgir, Abul Kalam (on the run), and AKM Firozul Islam Payel.
The 13 accused who were sentenced to 10 years in prison are: former chairman of Sahapur union Nefaur Rahman Raju, Ishwardi municipality councillor Anwar Hossain Jony, BNP leader RN Niaji (on the run), Ajmal Hossain Dablu, Muktar Hossain, Hafizur Rahman Mukul, Humayun Kabir Dulal, Tuhin Bin Siddiqui, Fazlur Rahman, Chand Ali (on the run), Enamul Kabir, Jamrul (on the run), and Barkat.
According to the case details, on September 23, 1994, a group of members of BNP and its affiliate organizations attacked a train carrying the entourage of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina when it was entering Ishwardi railway junction.
Hasina, who was the leader of the opposition then, was travelling from Khulna to Syedpur through Ishwardi for party programs.
The assailants hurled crude bombs at the train and opened fire at it.
Nazrul Islam, the then OC of Ishwardi railway police, filed a case against seven people after the attack.
After the Awami League came to power in 1996, a fresh investigation on the attack was conducted, and 52 people were accused in the new report.
Police submitted the charge sheet against the accused in April 1997. However, the court did not accept the charge sheet and transferred the case to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) for further investigation. The CID submitted another charge sheet before the court.
Based on the CID charges, the court on Sunday, June 30, 2019, sent 30 accused to jail by rejecting their bail. On Tuesday, two other accused, Mokhlesur Rahman Bablu and Abdul Hakim Tenu, surrendered before the court. Police arrested another accused on the same night.
Pabna Public Prosecutor Advocate Aktaruzzaman Mukta along with Advocate Golam Hasnain represented the state during the trial, while Advocate Nurul Islam and Advocate Sanath Kumar Sarker stood for the accused.