‘Allah does not authorize any militant organizations to kill innocent people in the name of religion,’ says court
A Dhaka court on Monday sentenced 10 members of the banned militant outfit Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami (HuJI) to death in a case filed over a bomb attack on a rally of the Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB) in 2001. The attack, in Dhaka, left five people killed.
Dhaka Third Additional Metropolitan Sessions Judge Md Robiul Alam handed down the verdict in a crowded courtroom amid tight security in and around the court.
The convicts are Mufti Moin Uddin Sheikh alias Abu Jandal, Arif Hossain Sumon, Maulana Sabbir Ahmed, Shawkat Osman alias Sheikh Farid, Jahangir Alam Badar, Mohibul Muttakin, Aminul Mursalin, Mufti Abdul Hai, Mufti Shafikur Rahman and Nur Islam.
The court also imposed a fine of Tk20,000 on each of the convicts.
Mufti Moin, Arif Hasan, Maulana Sabbir and Shawkat Osman were present at the hearing of the verdict while the remaining convicts are absconding.
Another accused in the case, the then Harkat-ul-Jihad (Huji) chief Mufti Abdul Hannan, was hanged over the grenade attack on ex-British envoy Anwar Choudhury in Sylhet on April 12, 2017.
The court, however, acquitted two accused fugitives – Moshiur Rahman and Rafiqul Islam Miraj – of the charges as the allegations brought against them did not hold up in court.
The court in its observation said the convicts killed people in an attempt to destroy the country’s democracy and pro-liberation forces.
The militants carried out the attack to uproot the CPB, the court said, adding that Huji members believe that CPB activists are heretics, atheists and non-believers of Islam and need to be wiped out.
The court noted: “Islam is a religion of peace. Allah does not authorize any militant organization or any party to kill innocent people in the name of religion.”
PP satisfied with verdict
The public prosecutor in the case, Salauddin Hawlader, expressed his satisfaction at the verdict. He said a total of 38 out of 106 prosecution witnesses, including eyewitnesses, had testified before the court on different occasions in the case.
Earlier on December 1 last year, the court set January 19 for the verdict after hearing concluding arguments in the long-pending case.
Turn of events
On September 4, 2014, the court framed charges against 13 Huji activists in a case filed with Motijheel police station.
On November 27, 2013, Investigation Officer (IO) Mrinal Kanti Saha, who is an inspector of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), submitted the charge sheets before the Dhaka Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Court accusing Huji of carrying out the attack.
Manzurul Ahsan Khan, then president of the CPB, filed the case with Motijheel police station, alleging that a group of anti-state conspirators had carried out the attack, which took place during the first administration of the Sheikh Hasina-led Awami League government.
Two years after the attack, during the regime of BNP-Jamaat led four party alliance governments, the CID submitted a final report on December 17, 2003, accusing none in the case.
But the complainant was not satisfied with the report. On January 27, 2005, the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate asked the authorities to reinvestigate the matter following a petition for a fresh probe into the cases.
The involvement of Huji in the bomb blast surfaced nine and a half years after the attack when Mufti Moin Uddin Sheikh alias Abu Jandal acknowledged responsibility for the explosion in a judicial confessional statement.
In his statement, Abu Jandal said the Huji men had carried out a bomb attack at the rally, killing two; and again while escaping from the site, they detonated another bomb at Bangabandhu Avenue that killed three people, including two hawkers.