Jalal Driver has still not recovered from the trauma and aftermath of being framed in the August 21 grenade attack case as Joj Miah, a scapegoat designed to throw off the investigation.
“People know me as Joj Miah because that is the name that police and the media gave me, but that is not my real name,” he said over the phone. “On voter ID, my name is Jalal Uddin.”
Jalal has to keep changing his address to avoid being branded as a criminal.
“Even though I had no relation to that incident, I went to jail (and) I lost my property,” he said.
After he got out of jail, Jalal had a difficult time trying to find a wife. He eventually married a woman by concealing his history, but she left him eight months ago after learning of his ‘alter ego’ as Joj Miah.
“She said she does not want to be with a man who has had a case against him. Everybody says if the government changes I will go to jail,” he said.
At least 24 Awami League leaders and activists were killed and 300 others injured in the August 21, 2004 grenade attack on current prime minister and then opposition leader, Sheikh Hasina.
The police Criminal Investigation Department made up stories to divert the investigation, arresting Jalal from his Noakhali home in June 2005.
“Those three police officers wanted to frame me. They threatened me with crossfire and forced me to give false confessions, and offered to give money to my family,” he said.
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Jalal Uddin in his car Bangla Tribune
“They showed me the video of the incident and told me to memorise things to say. They said they would make me state’s witness and I would have to name some top criminals. When they get out, they might target me, so they promised to send me and my whole family abroad.”
Jalal is happy that his tormentors are now facing trial. Last year, he testified in the Aug 21 grenade attack case alongside his mother and sister.
“The truth did not stay hidden and those men are now facing trial. I am grateful to God that they are being punished for their injustice,” he said.
Jalal is the third of four brothers and a sister. His brothers live separately, while he takes care of the two younger siblings and his mother at home in Siddhirganj in Narayanganj.
“I have to take care of this whole family. When I got charged in the case, my mother sold our ancestral home to bear the legal costs,” he said.
Jalal has bought an old car on instalments and now drives patients to and from hospitals.
This article was first published on Bangla Tribune