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| Dhaka, Thursday, 18 January 2018

Muhammad Abu Tayab

Khulna Bureau, The Report

Trial yet to end 21 years after JP leader murder

2016-02-08 19:25:14
Trial yet to end 21 years after JP leader murder

The trial following the murder of Jatiya Party (JP) leader and Khulna businessman Sheikh Abul Kashem is yet to end 21 years after the killing. Though the trial process has not ended, the main plaintiff of the case, the main witness, the investigation officer and two accused have already died. Not only that, this murder has led to more killings in the area.

According to the family of Abul Kashem and court sources, the trial process lost its momentum because of stay orders issued by the higher court on different occasions. The fate of the case has been hanging in the balance because of the long trial process. Even at present there is a stay order issued by the higher court on the case proceedings. The side of the plaintiff needs to take an initiative to get the stay order vacated, says special public prosecutor at the Khulna district judge’s court Advocate Arif Mahmud Liton.

On April 25 in 1995 then-Khulna city JP general secretary and former president of Khulna Chamber of Commerce and Industry Sheikh Abul Kashem was killed by miscreants in front of the BASIC Bank on the Sir Iqbal Road near the Khulna police station (25 cubicles away). His car driver Mikail was also killed in the incident. The Khulna city had come almost to a halt for three days after the incident.

Talking to the family of Abul Kashem, it was learnt that Sheikh Abul Kashem had been planning to join BNP along with his supporters and it had been finalised in discussion with former Speaker Sheikh Razzak Ali.

Abul Kashem’s family members claimed that the double murder had been committed with incitement by NGOs (non-government organisations) involved then in campaigning against shrimp farming in enclosures. His plan to join the BNP was also a reason.

Then-Khulna BNP leader Tarikul Huda Tapi later admitted to his involvement in the murder and gave his confessional statement to the CID (Criminal Investigation Department) under the Section 164.

After the murder, Abul Kashem’s relative Md Alamgir Hossain filed a case against a number of unidentified people. The CID was tasked with investigation into the case. After a long investigation process the charge-sheet was filed against ten people on May 5 in 1996. Those included in the charge-sheet are: 1. Syed Monirul Islam (Awami League leader and industrialist), 2. Tarikul Huda Tapi (former BNP leader and now a businessman), 3. Abdul Gaffar Biswas (JP leader and former MP), 4. Iktiar Uddin Bablu (BNP leader and former deputy mayor later shot dead), 5. Kazi Aminul Huq (former mayor and Awami leader, who is now the president of Khulna Chamber. His name was dropped from the charge sheet on June 8 in 1997), 6. Osikur Rahman (former JP leader now living in Dhaka), 7. Moshfekur Rahman (former Chhatra Dal leader now doing business in Dhaka. He was a BNP MP candidate in Bagerhat in 2008), 8. Mofizur Rahman (he has been a fugitive since the inception, but he is now doing business in Dhaka), 9. Milton (now an expatriate in the US), and 10. Tarek (an extremist leader. His family claims he has been remaining missing for four years since being caught by the law-enforcing agency).

Since most of the ten accused in the case are influential leaders in the BNP, Awami League and Jatiya Party and also rich people, the case proceedings have been stalled on different occasions. Though on June 8 in 1997 the trial started, later the proceedings came to a halt due to stay orders issued by the higher court on different occasions.

After remaining stalled on several occasions the case proceedings again started on April 24 in 2008 at the Khulna Divisional Speedy Trial Tribunal during the tenure of the last caretaker government. Then 18 witnesses out of the 32 gave their depositions before the court. As the trial could not be completed within the stipulated time, the case was sent to the Public Security Disruption Crime Control Tribunal on November 20 in 2008. Later again in 2009 and 2014 the trial came to a halt on issuance of stay orders by the higher court. That means the trial has been remaining stalled for about eight years.

When asked about the case, Khulna district judge’s court special PP Advocate Arif Mahmud Liton told The Report, “It is difficult to continue with the trial because of the higher court’s stay orders. Sheikh Abul Kashem was a popular leader in Khulna. It is illogical that the trial in his case will remain stalled like this.”

“But it is the plaintiff that needs to take an initiative to vacate the case,” he commented.

When asked about the case, Abul Kashem’s elder brother Abul Hossain told The Report, “If a sensational case like this faces obstructions, what will happen to other cases?”

He said they had not tried to get the higher court’s order vacated.

He said, “The plaintiff of the case expired 10 years ago. Nephew Asaduzzaman Litu, the main witness of the case, was killed in crossfire. The case’s investigation officer SP Khandker Iqbal has been killed. Besides, the witnesses of the case have been threatened on different occasions. Now I’ve left it to the Almighty Allah.”

Ends/ 8, 2016

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