The April 27, 2014 is dubbed as one of the darkest days in the history of Bangladesh as a new chapter of brutality and inhumanity was opened on the day. The crime-busting Rapid Action Battalion- RAB, once considered as great friend and well wisher of general people and panic to top criminals, kidnapped seven persons in broad-daylight and brutally murdered them in warm-blooded. People from all walks of life were deeply shocked in watching such inhuman murder. Narayangonj, one of the nearest districts from capital city Dhaka, turns once again into a place of horror and tears.
Ultimately over-a-year dramatic development on this sensational case 26 criminals including prime accused Nur Hossain, local leader of the ruling party, Bangladesh Awami League (BAL) and dismissed three officers of Rab-11 in Narayanganj Lt Col Tareque Sayeed Mohammad, the then Company Commander Maj Arif Hossain and Lt Commander Masud Rana, were awarded death penalty. Of them Lt Col Tareque is also the son-in-law of Disaster Management and Relief Minister Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury Maya.
Narayanganj Sessions Judge Sayed Enayet Hossain pronounced the capital punishment and jailed nine other accused for various terms, from 7 to 17 years on January 16, 2017.
The seven victims including Narayanganj City Corporation (NCC) panel mayor Nazrul Islam and senior lawyer Chandan Sarkar, were abducted from the Dhaka-Narayanganj link road on April 27, 2014. Three days later, the dead bodies were found floating in the Shitalakkhya river causing a nationwide outrage and tremor in the global arena.
Of the 26 sentenced to death, 16 are former RAB officials while the rest include prime accused Nur Hossain, also sacked vice-president of Siddhirganj Awami League and NCC councilor, and his cohorts. Of the 35 convicts, 23 are in jail and 12 are on the run.
Family members and countrymen are now demanding immediate execution of the verdict upholding the capital punishment in the top court. It is a matter of regret that people are still in confusion whether the verdict of such a sensational case will be implemented or not or whether the accused will manage impunity through the loopholes of law in the upper court. The issue has been focused in the reports filed in different national and international media.
Meanwhile, a section of people assume this verdict may establish the precedence of demolishing the embedded culture of impunity regarding the topmost criminals. But it will come into reality when the verdict will be established as we have the bitter experience of observing top killers getting relief by proving them innocent in top court with the help of senior lawyers in charge of huge fees along with political clout. On the other hand, we have to digest the practice of President’s mercy to the death row convicts. Even those criminals proudly roam before the very nose of the victims creating panic in the society.
Despite the reality of such impunity, some issues over the sensational seven-murder case should be clarified for the sake of justice. Some factors are still in dark from the very beginning of this gruesome murder including Narayanganj’s ‘Godfather’ Shamim Osman’s alleged involvement in the murders. Specially, it went viral in the social media and much-talked issue in the mainstream media once NCC Mayor Selina Hayat Ivy hinted at Shamim Osman.
Almost all national news outlets including some international media highlighted the issue. The headline of the English daily ‘The New Age’ was “N’GANJ SEVEN MURDER: Ivy blames ‘godfathers’” dated on 12 August 2014. Ivy talked to the media after facing a high-powered inquiry committee on 11 August 2014 at the Secretariat. A part of the New Age report is as follows:
“Emerging out of the probe body office, Selina, speaking to journalists, said ‘the godfathers in Narayanganj are behind the gruesome killings and everyone knows who those godfathers are.’”
Meanwhile, Shamim Osman blamed Ivy as she was trying to save a vested quarter in the seven murder case. The news of Shamim Osman’s reaction had also been the focal point in all media. For example, the headline of the English daily ‘The News Today’ on 12 August 2014 was “Ivy trying to save someone: Shamim Osman”. A part of that news is as follows:
“Shamim Osman, a ruling party MP from Narayanganj-4, on Tuesday alleged that local city mayor Selina Hayat Ivy is trying to save some perpetrators of the sensational seven-murder incident by shifting the blame on so-called godfathers, reports UNB. ‘From the very beginning, Ivy has been claiming that Rab has no link with the incident…
She didn’t mention my name yesterday (Monday) either. I hope she won’t mention godfather in the future, too. The way she talked to journalists and in TV talk-shows yesterday it gives an impression she’s trying to save someone involved in the killings’, he said.
Shamim was talking to reporters after giving his deposition to the seven-member probe body formed by the government to investigate the gruesome seven-murder incident in Narayanganj. He also claimed that Nur Hossain, the prime accused in the case, is not his man and said Mayor Ivy had put him in big positions of different committees of the Narayanganj City Corporation (NCC).”
The altercation between two top local leaders of the ruling party- Shamim and Ivy- over the sensational seven murder case is still in dark. Only the members of the elite force RAB, word counselor Nur Hossain and some other petty persons found directly involved in the gruesome murder have been handed down capital punishment. But the masterminds are still under curtain. A proper investigation over the altercation between Shamim Osman and Ivy must be launched for the sake of justice. But, mysteriously this logical issue has been ignored.
Another vital issue, should be marked, is that Shamim Osman claimed Nur Hossain as not his man. Even he opined that Nur might have involvement in the incident of seven murders. While briefing journalists after facing inquiry committee on 12 August 2014 Shamim also said that if he had the capability he would have brought Nur Hossain the next day. But this cunning briefing of Shamim Osman proved fake and full of slyness if we look at the telephonic conversation between Shamim Osman and Nur Hossain that was leaked out. The audio of that conversation is still in YouTube.
The headline of a report in the English national daily “The Daily Star” dated on 23 May 2014 over that conversation was “Conversation indicates Shamim helped Nur flee”. A few parts of the report are as follows:
“Shamim Osman today confirmed his telephone conversation with Nur Hossain which indicates that the ruling party lawmaker helped the latter to flee the country. Talking to reporters at his Gulshan residence, Shamim however claimed that he had rather suggested Nur, the prime accused of the seven-murder in Narayanganj, to surrender before court if he was not guilty.”
What a great false statement Shamim Osman uttered before media can be realized if we carefully pay a heed at the telephonic conversation. Quoting the Bangla daily Prothom Alo the conversation was exactly converted to English by the daily star. The part of the daily star report related to the conversation is as follows:
“In the leaked telephonic conversation, Shamim Osman had told Nur Hossain, ‘You don’t think so much. You will face no more problems now. Go ahead.
Then, Shamim Osman again said, ‘I have sent information. Did you get that?’
At one point of the talks, the controversial AL lawmaker had instructed Nur to meet a man named ‘Gour Da’.
Shamim also wanted to know from Nur if he had any seal (may be passport). ‘Yes, yes. I have a seal. But how can I go. There is a red alert,’ the suspected killer replied.
‘No. There is no alert,’ Shamim then assured Nur and suggested to meet ‘Gour Da’.”
In a report entitled “Shamim Osman-Nur Hossain tele-talk” published in the online news portal the “bdnews24.com” dated 24 May 2014 the conversation was exactly exposed. The conversation is as follows:
“Shamim Osman: Hello.
Nur Hossain: Assalamu Alaikum, brother.
Osman: Who is speaking?
Hossain: Brother, I’m in great trouble. I’m uneducated. I’ve made many mistakes…Your’e like my father. I love you so much.
Osman: Did you get the news I sent?
Hossain: Yes. I love you so much, brother. My son is young. He will die. Guns are trained on me.
Osman: Time will take care of everything.
Hossain: You’re like my father. I will give you my life, brother. I love you so much, brother.
Osman: Don’t worry so much. Give it time.
Hossain: Brother, I’m not educated. I’ve made many mistakes. Please forgive me.
Osman: Don’t worry so much. Give time. And you meet Gor’da.
Hossain: Brother, please arrange my going to Delhi.
Osman: There’ll be no problem. Is there any seal (visa) for any country?
Hossain: No, no, that is there. There is seal (visa). But how will I go? I heard there is an alert everywhere.
Osman: It doesn’t seem like that.
Hossain: Brother, then please try to have information. I’ll call you tomorrow.
Osman: Carry on.
Hossain: Brother, I’m not educated. I’ve made mistakes.
Osman: If you go to that place…
Hossain: Brother, I’m in a microbus… going to get in a bus.
Osman: Nothing will happen. Don’t worry. You haven’t committed crimes.
Osman: Don’t worry.
Hossain: Won’t I find any means, brother? I have huge mental strength.
Osman: I know, I know. Someone killed two birds with one stone by committing the incident.
Hossain: Brother, I’ve made many mistakes. Please forgive me.
Osman: All right. You do one thing. Anyway, I’ll give you a phone number and I’ll contact you. This number is new?
Hossain: Yes, brother.
Osman: Ok. I’m hanging up.
Hossain: Ok, brother. Assalamu Alaikum”.
It’s really a million dollar question that how baseless the claim of Shamim Osman was! On the other hand, who was that ‘Gour Da’. None of these vital factors in the sensational seven murder case are still in dark.
Not only the name of Shamim Osman or Ivy but another name of a top RAB official was also identified in the sensational seven murder case. The English daily “The Dhaka Tribune” published a report on this issue on June 6, 2014 entitled “Zia’s identity now seems key to solving N’ganj 7-murder case”. A few parts of the report have been quoted here:
“Lt Commander (retd) MM Rana, a former RAB 11 official from the navy, who lost his job after the seven murders in Narayanganj, has revealed in his confessional statement that the crime had been committed on the instruction of the force’s high official named Zia.
Md Sakhawat Hossain Khan, chief of the local lawyers’ association, told this to journalists based on information he gathered from different sources about the statement.
…‘They (Three former RAB- 11 officials including MM Rana, Lt Col (retd) Tarek Sayeed Mohammad and Major (retd) Arif Hossain) also mentioned the name of a highly placed official of a certain force that they belonged to. They identified the high official as Zia and it was him who gave the orders for the abduction and the murders,’ the lawyer said.
Asked what he meant by the ‘certain force’ Sakhawat Hossain said he meant the RAB as those arrested three former officials belonged to the force.
The trio repeatedly said it was difficult for them to disobey an order that came from such a highly-placed official, Sakhawat said quoting a source as saying.
However, Sakhawat did not specify the rank and post of the high official named Zia but a couple of weeks after the abduction and murder on April 27, elite force Rapid Action Battalion’s Additional Director General (ADG) Col Ziaul Ahsan came under the spotlight due to some of his remarks on the gruesome seven murders…
Shahidul (slain Nazrul’s father-in-law), on the other hand, alleged that RAB ADG Col Ziaul had helped Nur to escape out of the country. He went further to say that the top RAB official was also involved in the abductions and murders along with three other officials of the RAB 11 unit.”
But this serious issue is also in darkness. Actually from the very beginning of the investigation on this sensational case we see some loopholes. Even the CCTV footage went missing. The English daily “The New Age” reported on this issue on May 17, 2014. The headline of the report was “N’GANJ MURDER: April 27 CCTV footage lost”. A portion of the report is as follows:
“The police did not preserve the April 27 footage of closed-circuit television cameras installed in the Narayanganj city when Rapid Action Battalion personnel are alleged to have picked up seven people from the Dhaka–Narayanganj link road.
Investigators found that no footage for the day was preserved. The police had installed the CCTV cameras on 16 locations, many of which went out of order recently.
The police earlier used to preserve footage for the last 72 hours but the length was later reduced to 36 hours. The footage beyond 36 hours automatically gets deleted unless it is saved somewhere else on instructions.
The CCTV cameras in the Chashara crossing and other important points were working on the day when Narayanganj panel mayor Nazrul Islam and four of his associates and lawyer Chandan Kumar Sarkar and his driver were abducted.
Asked about the CCTV footage, the superintendent of police, Kh Mahid Uddin, avoided giving an answer.”
Actually, the tradition of compromising attitude with killers or top criminals for harvesting narrow political gains is nothing new. Top politicians of Bangladesh very often forget their ideology and compromise with killers just to bag petty political interest. For example, former military dictator Hussain Muhammad Ershad was one of the members of the Army Tribunal of the then West Pakistan during 1971 War of Liberation. Many army personnel worked in support for the liberation of Bangladesh were brutally killed under that tribunal.
Unfortunately, after the liberation of the country Ershad was reinstated in Bangladesh army by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman though he deserved capital punishment for his notorious role against the creation of Bangladesh. Not only that the dictator has been appointed as the Special Envoy of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Ershad is also believed to be one of the suspected masterminds of killing Bangabandu in 15 August 1975. Noted Freedom Fighter Col. Shafayat Jamil (retd.) in his famous book entitled “Ekattorer Muktijuddha, Raktakta Moddo-August, Sharajantrer November (Seventy one Liberation War, Bloody Mid-August, Conspiracy of November)” (page no. 121) wrote: “In reviewing the co-incidents it is not illogical at all to state that Ershad had an indirect but strong role in 15 August Coup and murder”.
Regarding the execution of the sensational seven murder verdict people may witness utopian thing as seen in case of Ershad. Perhaps the masterminds of the gruesome killings will never be debunked. Even the real culprits might be awarded in future putting them with higher rank as minister or something like that. Time will say what might actually be happened and it’s too early to predict. The nation wants to see the immediate execution of 26 convicts but the real culprits who cleverly averted the trial should be brought to book for establishing rule of law and justice.