The police probe into the 2015 attack on BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia's motorcade in the city's Karwan Bazar has failed to identify any of the attackers though photographs of many of them were published in the media.
The BNP chief's convoy came under attack during a campaign for city corporation election in April. Two and a half years later, her motorcade was attacked twice within only four days this week in Feni.
But what happened in the name of probing the 2015 incident is puzzling.
Khaleda's bullet-proof car was damaged in the attack, and the media exposed the identities of the attackers and their political affiliation with the ruling Awami League.
Probing the incident for more than a year, the police official concerned found no merit in the case filed by the BNP. The official submitted the final report to a Dhaka court at the end of last year, saying the complaints in the first information report were found to be false.
But in the same incident, the same police official found evidence against 15 BNP men and Khaleda's security personnel in a counter-case filed by a local AL leader.
The official submitted charge sheet against them to a Dhaka court on October 3 last year, and the court accepted it.
Sub-inspector Abdul Halim Mia was the investigation officer (IO) in both the cases.
Inquired whether police probe didn't find any proof of attack on Khaleda's convoy, Halim said yesterday, “Attacks were carried out by both the sides.”
Asked if that was true, then why charge sheet was submitted in one case, not in the other, the police official said, “Why do I have to tell you that? I will only talk about this to my senior officials and the court.”
Most of the attackers on Khaleda's motorcade in the city are known faces of Karwan Bazar and Tejgaon areas. Photographs of many of them attacking her convoy with bricks and sticks were published in newspapers and aired on TV channels.
Yet, police didn't find involvement of any of them in the attack.
On April 20, 2015, around 150 ruling party men led allegedly by Chhatra League leaders swooped on the motorcade with brick chips and sticks, leaving 15 people, including BNP chief's security personnel, injured.
Six vehicles, including four from the motorcade, were damaged. Two counter-cases of attempted murder were filed with Tejgaon Police Station a day later.
Over a hundred AL men were accused in the case filed by Khaleda's security chief Maj Gen (retd) Fazle Elahi Akbar while around a hundred BNP men and members of the party chairperson's security force (CSF) were sued by AL's Dhaka Ward-26 President Jahirul Haque Zillu.
In the charge sheet of Zillu's case, the IO stated that AL men were holding a rally in front of Petro Bangla in support of Dhaka North City Corporation mayoral candidate Annisul Huq and councillor candidate Shamim Hasan while Khaleda was addressing another rally, around 100-150 yards away, for mayoral candidate Tabith Awal.
Some people from the BNP rally hurled brick chips at AL's “peaceful rally” and also beat up AL leaders and activists indiscriminately, the IO mentioned.
“The CSF members opened fire in a bid to kill. In the investigation, it was found that before leaving the spot, they [CSF] threatened them [AL men] with death if they went for campaigning again,” it added.
The 15 charge-sheeted accused include BNP chief's personal assistant Shamsur Rahman Shimul Biswas, Senior Vice President of Swechchasebak Dal (Dhaka north) Azizur Rahman, Tejgaon Thana Jubo Dal Vice President Abdul Quader, and three CSF members.
But in the other case filed by the BNP, the same police official submitted a final report, saying the probe didn't find any proof of attack on Khaleda's convoy.
The IO, however, didn't mention how the vehicles in her motorcade were damaged or how the BNP men were hurt.
Contacted on Tuesday, Fazle Elahi Akbar, the plaintiff of the case, said, “Police did not contact us. We do not know anything about the fate of the case.”
Talking to The Daily Star, Muhammad Nurul Huda, former inspector general of police, said one can file a no-confidence motion if he is not satisfied with the investigation. The aggrieved person may appeal to court for further probe by another agency.
Transparency International Bangladesh Executive Director Dr Iftekharuzzaman said, “Although this is nothing new, it shows how law enforcement agencies are becoming convenient agents of promoting political agenda of the ruling authorities.
“This happened in greater or lesser degree when the present ruling party was in opposition. Disturbing as the trend is for the future of democratic accountability, it also accelerates the process of erosion of professionalism and hence lack of public trust in such public institutions,” he added.
WHO WERE THE ATTACKERS?
Those who hurled bricks at Khaleda's motorcade and vandalised several vehicles were mostly leaders and activists of the ruling AL's associate bodies and Chhatra League men from ward-26, Tejgaon and Dhaka Polytechnic Institute, according to witnesses.
The Daily Star had identified about a dozen of the attackers from the photos and footage published by different newspapers and TV channels. Locals and sources in the BCL, the pro-AL student body, confirmed their identities. Their own Facebook pages also validated their party posts.
These attackers were frequently seen with the then top BCL leaders, including its then president HM Badiuzzaman Sohag. They also had many photos with Sohag on their Facebook pages.
Following the incident, AL leaders claimed that traders at Karwan Bazar, who incurred losses due to the BNP-enforced blockade in early 2015, carried out the attack. Facebook page of Tejgaon thana unit BCL also claimed that the attack was a result of BNP's internal conflict.
However, the photos and the video clips say otherwise.
PROBE INTO BANGLA MOTOR ATTACK
Two days after the Karwan Bazar incident, a group of around 70 people attacked Khaleda's motorcade with wooden sticks and threw brick chips at it in Bangla Motor area.
On April 22, 2015, she was on her way to Old Dhaka for electioneering in city corporation polls.
Abdul Qaiyum, an adviser to the BNP chairperson, and six of her security personnel were injured.
A window of the sport utility vehicle carrying Khaleda and several other cars were damaged.
Qaiyum filed a case with Ramna Police Station against 50 unidentified people over the attack while Babu Hasan, a BCL leader, filed another case against some 25 anonymous people.
The investigations in both the cases are pending.
Sub-inspector Masud Zamaddar, the IO in both the cases, said the probes were taking time as the accused were not named in the cases.
No one had been arrested, he added.