A Dhaka court on Monday sentenced 10 Islamic religious extremists to death for the January 20, 2001 bomb attack on a Communist Party of Bangladesh rally in the capital, which killed five and injured over 50 CPB leaders and activists.
Judge Md Robiul Alam of the third additional metropolitan sessions judge court pronounced the verdict on the day when the left political party was observing the 19th anniversary of the attack on its rally at Paltan.
The court also fined the convicts Tk20,000 each and acquitted two others as the accusations against them were not proved.
The convicts are Mufti Moin Uddin Sheikh, Arif Hasan Sumon, Maulana Sabbir Ahmed, Shawkat Osman alias Sheikh Farid, Jahangir Alam Badar, Mohibul Muttakin, Aminul Mursalin, Mufti Abdul Hai, Mufti Shafikur Rahman and Nur Islam.
The court found that all the convicts were members of the banned Islamist extremist outfit Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami, better known as HUJI.
Only four of them—Moin Uddin, Sumon, Sabbir and Shawkat—are now in jail custody, who heard the verdict from the dock. The six others are absconding.
The court acquitted Moshiur Rahman and Rafiqul Islam Meraj as they were found not guilty. They, too, faced the trial in absentia.
The court observed that the convicts carried out the bomb attack to eliminate the CPB as the HUJI thought that the left party’s leaders and activists were non-believer, atheist, enemy of Islam and did not obey Allah.
‘The accused, in a bid to destroy the independence and democracy and wipe out the pro-liberation forces of the country forever, committed murders at places of the country by carrying out series bomb attacks,’ the court observed.
‘Bangladesh has earned its independence through a great war of independence. That is why, the court thinks, the extremists, also members of Harkat-ul-Jihad, should be punished exemplarily to protect and uphold the country’s independence and democracy,’ the court said.
Mentioning that the HUJI members killed five innocent people and injured scores, the court said, ‘Islam is a religion of peace and truth. Allah does not allow any extremist organisation or group to kill any innocent people in the name of religion.’
CPB leaders Himangshu Mandal of Batiyaghata in Khulna, labour leader Abdul Majid of Dada Match Factory at Rupsha Industrial Belt in the Khulna city and Abul Hashem of Latif Bawani Jute Mills of Demra in Dhaka and CPB activist Mokhter Hossain of Madaripur were killed on the spot in the bomb attack.
Injured Chhatra Union leader Bipradas Roy of BL College in Khulna succumbed to injuries at a Dhaka hospital a few days later.
After the verdict, metropolitan public prosecutor Abdullah Abu said that the government side succeeded in proving the case properly based on proper evidence and the court punished the accused according to the law.
‘We are happy with the verdict,’ he said.
On the other hand, defence lawyer Faruk Ahmed said that they would go to the higher court against the verdict as it was not properly arrived at.
CPB president Mujahidul Islam Selim and general secretary Md Shah Alam, in a statement on the day, said that the bomb attack on the CPB rally was the first bomb attack on any political party’s rally in the country.
‘It is a matter of satisfaction that the verdict was announced though 19 years have passed. The verdict should be executed immediately,’ the statement said, adding that there would have been no more attack on any political party’s rally if the culprits were punished earlier.
After the bomb attack, then CPB president Manzurul Ahsan Khan filed a case with Paltan Police Station accusing unknown people in connection with the incident.
Soon after the attack, police arrested 12 people but the police’s Criminal Investigation Department, in its final investigation report submitted on December 17, 2003, cleared the arrestees of the charges saying that no ‘correct, impartial and reliable’ evidence was found against them.
Later, the home ministry ordered a re-investigation into the incident following an application submitted by the CID in 2005.
Nine and a half years after the attack, the participation of HUJI members in the bomb attack came in light again when Mufti Mainuddin Khaja alias Abu Jandal acknowledged responsibility in a judicial confessional statement.
In his statement, Abu Jandal said that the HUJI men carried out the bomb attack on the CPB rally where five people were killed.
On November 27, 2013, case investigation officer and CID inspector Mrinal Kanti Saha submitted two charge sheets to the chief metropolitan magistrate court of Dhaka accusing 13 members of HUJI.
One charge sheet was on the killing of five people and injuring of 50 others and the other was made under the Explosive Substances Act on exploding bombs that caused casualties.
Of the 13 accused, HUJI chief Mufti Hannan was executed on April 12, 2017 in the case over the grenade attack on the British high commissioner in Sylhet on May 21, 2004.
The trial of the case over the bomb attack on the CPB rally ended on December 1, 2018.
During the trial, the court recorded statements of 46 prosecution witnesses, including the complainant.
The trial of the other case filed under the Explosive Substances Act is under way in the same court.
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