Industrialist Ragib Ali and his son Abdul Hai have been released from jail around 11 months after they were convicted in a case filed over signature forgery and land grabbing charges in Sylhet.
Sylhet Central Jail's Senior Jailer Md Abdul Jalil told the Dhaka Tribune that the duo was released around 1:15pm on Sunday after they secured bail from the Supreme Court in three cases.
A group of employees of different organisations owned by Ragib received them at the jail gate. Later, he and his son went to the bungalow at Malnichora.
Last Thursday, the Supreme Court, headed by acting chief justice Md Abdul Wahhab Miah, granted them bail in the case lodged against Ragib, his son and four others for forging signatures in Land Ministry documents to illegally grab the land of an endowed property at Tarapur Tea Estate in the district.
Earlier, Ragib and Hai also secured bail in two other cases – one for embezzling money after building illegal structures on the land grabbed at the tea estate and the other over holding posts of a local newspaper while being fugitives in the first case.
Their lawyer Abdul Halim Kafi said that there were no more legal bars to their release as they were granted bail in the cases.
Ragib Ali is the vice-chairman of South East Bank, chairman of the Trustee Board of Leading University and former chairman of the North South University’s Trustee Board. He founded Ragib-Rabeya Medical College in Jalalabad and many other organisations, including local Bangla newspaper Daily Sylheter Dak.
In August 1999, the then Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Land Ministry had found evidence of illegal grabbing of the Tarapur Tea Estate land and illegal structures. It later recommended legal actions against the grabbers.
Following that, the then assistant land commissioner of Sylhet Sadar upazila filed two cases at Kotwali police station on September 27, 2005. But case proceedings had stalled for 11 years following High Court orders.
In January last year, the Appellate Division ordered the government to reclaim the land of the tea estate and revive the cases against Ragib, who was widely known as Daanbir (philanthropist) for his donations to many educational institutions until his scams surfaced.
In April same year, the Police Bureau of Investigation started the reinvestigation and filed a charge sheet on the first case, naming the industrialist and his son, on July 10.
However, the two fled to India the next month after an arrest warrant was issued for them.
Ragib was, however, arrested in Assam on November 24 after his visa expired and brought home. Twelve days earlier, Hai was also arrested by Zakiganj immigration police when he was attempting to re-enter Bangladesh from India.
On February 2 this year, a Sylhet court sentenced Ragib and Hai to a total of 14 years in jail each in the first case.
On April 6, the industrialist was sentenced to 14 years in jail too in the second case filed over the setting up of illegal structures on the tea estate land. Four other members of his family, including Hai, were also sentenced to 16 years in jail each in the case.
However, Ragib and Hai were sentenced to one year jail term each on March 9 in the third case, which was filed by Chhatak Upazila Press Club President Giash Uddin Talukder in September last year.
Giash had sued them for using their names in the printer’s line of Daily Sylheter Dak while they were on the run.