12:00 AM, February 21, 2009 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, February 21, 2009

Sheer neglect let it happen

Law enforcers didn't defuse grenades even after 6 hrs of seizure

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Julfikar Ali Manik

The violent attack by an arrested Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) cadre at a press briefing in Gazipur SP office yesterday could be made due to callousness of police.
Although recovery of explosives and holding of such press briefings became a routine over the last three years, yesterday's incident is an unprecedented one as an arrestee detonated a seized grenade.
Police and Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) officials admitted the incident occurred as the press briefing was arranged without defusing the five improvised grenades seized from a Gazipur village.
A Rab official mentioned that in the last three years, they arranged press briefings displaying seized bombs and grenades after those were defused.
"We have made a mistake," said a sub-inspector of Tongi Police Station, who was involved in the process of recovery of the grenades, a huge quantity of explosive substances and arrest of the JMB activist. He however preferred anonymity.
Meanwhile, sources said a four-member Rab bomb squad reached Ghortoil village12:30 pm, where the explosives were seized.
On hearing that the explosives and the arrestee were taken to the SP office, they returned there at 1:30pm. It is astonishing that they visited the SP office but left it without defusing the grenades.
Rab sources claimed that they did not neutralise the grenades as police did not ask for it.
"Usually, if a seized explosive poses a threat it is neutralised instantly without taking permission from court. In case the risk is not that much evident, seized explosives are neutralised with permission from court," said a Rab source.
“Had police assessed the risk and asked for neutralising the grenades, the Rab experts would have done so,” he added.
The Rab bomb squad again rushed to the SP office immediately after the grenade attack.
In reply to a question, the SP, Abdul Baten, said, "The explosives were supposed to be defused later."
Replying to another question, he said, “Actually our experts took some time to arrive.”
The explosives were recovered around 10:30am and the press briefing was held at 4:00pm.
When his attention was drawn to this, Baten however said, "The explosives could not be neutralised as the Rab bomb squad members reached his office after the briefing was already held."
When asked why the grenades were not defused when the squad had visited his office earlier, Baten replied, "The squad members had an emergency work at another place, and they had to leave his office immediately."

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