Seventeen years have elapsed since the gruesome Ramna Batamul bombing, but victims’ families continue to await the dispensation of justice.
Ten people were killed and 50 others wounded on this day in 2001 when a bomb exploded at a cultural program organized at Ramna Batamul on the occasion of Bangla New Year 1408.
Following the attack, two cases – one under the Penal Code for the killings and the other under the Explosive Substances Act – were filed with the Ramna police station.
Case under the Penal Code
Trial proceedings in the murder case were completed, but the verdict is yet to be executed as the case is now pending with the High Court.
On November 30, 2008, the Criminal Investigation Department pressed charges in both cases against 14 militants after it found the militant outfit Harkatul Jihad (Huji) was involved in the attack.
On June 23, 2014, a trial court sentenced eight members of the militant organization, including its former chief Mufti Hannan, to death and six others to life imprisonment in the murder case.
The death-row convicts are Mufti Hannan, Arif Hasan Sumon, Moulana Akbar Hossain, Moulana Tajuddin, Hafez Jahangir Alam Badar, Maulana Abu Bakar, Mufti Shafikur Rahman, and Mufti Abdul Hai. The other six are Shahadat Ullah Jewel, Hafez Maulana Abu Taher, Maulana Abdur Rauf, Maulana Sabbir Hossain, Moulana Yahiya, and Maulana Shawkat Osman alias Sheikh Farid.
Of the death-row convicts, Mufti Hannan was executed in April last year, in a separate case filed over a grenade attack on the then British high commissioner Anwar Choudhury in Sylhet on May 21, 2004.
Among the 14 convicts, Suman, Jewel, Abu Taher, Rouf, and Akbar are behind bars, while the rest are on the run.
The judgement has not yet been executed as eight of the convicts filed nine separate appeals with the High Court, challenging the lower court’s verdict.
On January 17 last year, the case was brought to the High Court for review of the appeals.
Asked about the latest status, Deputy Attorney General Md Moniruzzman Rubel said the case was now pending with the High Court bench of Justice Mohammad Ruhul Kuddus and Justice Bhishmadev Chakraborty.
Case under the Explosive Substances Act
The case filed under the Explosives Substance Act is pending with Dhaka Speedy Trial Tribunal-1 due to the non-appearance of witnesses and alleged negligence of the prosecution.
“The tribunal has been issuing summons one after another, asking police to produce witnesses before it, but the police fails to produce them on time, causing a delay in the trial proceedings,” defence counsel Md Mazharul Kuddus Masud told the Dhaka Tribune.
However, the tribunal’s special public prosecutor Abu Abdullah Bhuiyan refuted the allegation of negligence, saying: “We are sending summons to the witnesses to appear before the court as per its orders, but they are not turning up.”
As of now, depositions of 25 out of 84 prosecution witnesses have been recorded.
Mufti Hannan and Akbar confessed to carrying out the violent attack as holding such programs, according to them, is incompatible with Islamic values.