Govt adopts go-slow policy over Hefazat’s violence cases

Muktadir Rashid | Published: 00:27, May 06,2017 | Updated: 00:53, May 06,2017

 
 

The government, the police and the prosecution in particular, has adopted a go-slow policy in dealing with the 83 cases filed against Hefazat-e-Islam leaders and activists for violence in Dhaka and at places across the country in May 5-6, 2013.
No Hefazat leader or activist is now detained as the police are still investigating 58 of the cases while no known leader of qoumi madrassah-based Islamist group Hefazat have been named in the charge sheets so far have been submitted in 25 cases, police officials said.
Bangladesh Nationalist Party and Jamaat-e-Islami activists were also named in the charge sheets.
Hardly any visible progress has so far been made in the trial of the 25 cases, prosecution and court officials said.
Hefazat leaders are now calling on the government to withdraw the cases filed against them.
At a meeting with prime minister Sheikh Hasina at her Ganabhaban residence on April 11, Hefazat leaders urged her to withdraw the ‘false and politically motivated’ cases immediately.
Hefazat organising secretary Azizul Hoque Islamabadi
said that the prime minster assured them of considering the proposal.
He believed that the cases were meant for keeping their leadership under pressure.
He said that at least 182 Hefazat leaders and activists were arrested and they were now remanded on bail.
Home minister Asaduzzaman Khan on April 12 said that the cases filed against Hefazat would continue as per the law and ruled out chances of withdrawal of the cases.
A senior police official said that they were going slow on the cases as law and order was their first priority now.
On May 5, 2013, the government allowed Hefazat to hold rally at the country’s business hub Motijheel in Dhaka as the Islamist group was staging demonstration to implement a set of demands, including restoration of the phrase ‘complete faith and trust in the Almighty Allah’ in the constitution.
Hefazat activists clashed with law enforcers and ruling Awami League activists at places in Dhaka on the day.
Joint forces dispersed the Hefazat activists from Motijheel in an operation early May 6, 2013 when security forces turned off all lights in the area.
Hundreds of shops, vehicles and police outposts were set on fire and shops, including those having Islamic books were looted or set on fire.
A number of people shot dead in the two-day violence. New Age reported at least 24 people were killed alone on May 5 while police said only 11 people got killed.
On May 6, the protests spread across the country especially in Narayanganj, Hathazari upazila in Chittagong and Bagerhat, killing at least 27 people.
Amnesty International demanded an independent and impartial investigation into the incidents.
The government is yet to formally announce the number people killed and injured in the two-day violence.
Police headquarters officials, however, said that 39 people, including 22 Hefazat supporters, were killed in the violence.
According to them, they had recorded 83 cases filed for the two-day violence.
Of the 83 cases, 53 were filed with six police stations under Dhaka Metropolitan Police, 17 in Narayanganj, 6 in Bagherhat , 2 in Chittagong and five others in Barisal, Dhaka and railway division.
Field-level police officials said that charge sheets were submitted in 25 of the cases.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police media centre statistics showed that 49 of the 53 cases were still under investigation while charge sheets were submitted in the rest four cases and now they were pending with the Dhaka Chief Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court.
One of the four cases was filed with Ramna police station. None of the top Hefazat leaders were named in the charge sheet, which, however, blamed Bangladesh Nationalist Party and Jamaat-e-Islami for the violence.
Charges were framed in the case on March 4, 2015, but formal trial could not commence as complainant Md Babul and prosecution witnesses did not appear before the court on 11 dates fixed so far for the trial, court officials said.
The situation of the other cases is also similar, said police and prosecution and court sources.
Narayanganj superintendent of police Moinul Hoque said that charge sheets were submitted in 15 cases of the 17 cases filed there and the 15 cases were now pending with various courts in the district.
Defence counsel Shakhawat Hossain Khan who deals with many of such cases told New Age that over 500 Bangladesh National Party leaders and activists were named in the cases.
He alleged that Siddhirganj unit of Tanti Dal secretary Akbor Ali was arrested on March 3 in one of such cases while two other BNP activists were also in jail.
Six cases were filed in Bagerhat for May 5-6, 2013 violence, the police headquarters said.
Bagerhat superintendent of police Pankaj Kumar Roy, however, said that 11 cases were filed with Fakirhat police station against Hefazat activists and charge sheets were submitted against about 500 people in all of the cases.
At least two cases were filed with Hathazari police station on May 6, 2013 following violent clashes.
Hathazari police station officer-in-charge Belal Uddin Jahangir said that both cases were at the last stage of investigation and charge sheet would be submitted shortly.
About two cases filed in Barisal, district police chief Akhtaruzzaman said that he needed time to recollect the current situation of the cases while the Dhaka district police additional superintendent Saidur Rahman could not recall whether the lone case filed against Hefazat was under investigation.

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