Hasnat Karim went to Gulshan’s Holey Artisan Bakery on July 1, 2016 with his wife and two children to celebrate his daughter’s birthday.
He and his family members were taken hostage when armed terrorists barged into the upscale restaurant around 9pm.
The terrorists, however, let the family go before commandos stormed the restaurant the next morning.
A month after the incident, Hasnat was detained for questioning and later shown arrested in the Gulshan terror attack case.
He is still behind bars.
Police have so far failed to produce concrete evidence against Hasnat to link him with the incident. Investigators insist that nothing can be said about him before the investigation is finished.
Hasnat’s family maintains that he is innocent.
Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) Unit chief Monirul Islam told the Dhaka Tribune that they were investigating Hasnat with priority.
Sources say after the attack several pictures of Hasnat and Tahmid Hasib Khan with one of the terrorists on the rooftop emerged, taking the social media by storm and many speculated that the two could be involved in the attack.
Hasnat and Tahmid have been interrogated several times.
Then, on the evening of August 3, 2016, Hasnat was arrested from the street in front of Gulshan Aarong as a suspect under Section 54.
He was later exonerated on October 5.
During interrogation, Hasnat said that he had gone to Holey Artisan for dinner to celebrate his daughter’s birthday with his family, a source with knowledge of the matter said.
Investigators later confirmed that it was indeed the birthday of Hasnat’s daughter and looked into reports that he was sacked from his job at North South University for his alleged communication with banned militant outfit Hizb ut-Tahrir.
However, investigators found that Hasnat had quit his job voluntarily.
When asked, Hasnat told them that he had left his job to assist his father’s business.
What Hasnat’s family says
Hasnat’s wife Sharmina Parveen said her husband was innocent, pointing out that no evidence has been found against him. She urged the authorities to release Hasnat.
She had previously said that the family had been held hostage at gunpoint and Hasnat was forced to obey the attackers’ commands.
“After the attack, Hasnat, and a gentleman by the name of Tahmid were arrested for questioning for their suspected involvement in the attack,” she said.
Tahmid was later released and charges against him were dropped.
“Although Hasnat is innocent and despite the fact that no evidence has been produced to justify his detention, he still remains in [police] custody,” she noted.
She pointed out that Hasnat was not charged even a year after the incident.
“Hasnat’s father has died during this period and his medical conditions have exacerbated to the extent that there are now well-founded and justifiable concerns for his physical and mental well-being,” she said.