3 lawyers held for 'funding militants'
The Rapid Action Battalion on Tuesday arrested three lawyers in the city's Dhanmondi area in connection with financing Shaheed Hamja Brigade, a Chittagong-based militant outfit.
Shakila Farzana, 39, and Hasanuzzaman Liton, 30, who reportedly practise at the Supreme Court, and Mahfuz Chowdhury Bapon, 25, who practises at the District Judge's Court, Dhaka, were arrested, said Commanding Officer of Rab-7 Lt Col Miftah Uddin Ahmed at a press conference at its Chittagong headquarters.
Shakila hailed from Chittagong and is the daughter of former BNP MP and whip of parliament Syed Wahidul Alam. Liton hails from Kushtia, while Bapon's address could not be known immediately.
Shakila is a member of Chittagong district (north) unit BNP and joint general secretary of Nationalist Lawyers Forum, Nur Mohammed, joint convener of the district unit told The Daily Star.
A Banshkhali court yesterday placed the three on four-day remand each in connection with a case filed with Banshkhali Police Station following the recovery of Shaheed Hamja Brigade's arms and ammunition on February 21.
The three were shown arrested in the case before they were produced before the Court of Senior Judicial Magistrate Sajjad Hossain.
Contacted, Superintendent of Supreme Court Bar Association Nimesh Chandra Das told The Daily Star that only Shakila was a listed lawyer of the SCBA.
SCBA President Khandker Mahbub Hossain and General Secretary AM Mahbub Uddin Khokon in a joint statement denounced the arrest of Shakila and said she had been engaged in the profession with good reputation.
“She was arrested in a false case to defame her politically and socially as well as to harass her,” the statement said demanding her immediate release.
The statement did not mention anything about the other two.
The Rab-7 CO said the trio deposited Tk 1.08 crore out of Tk 1.38 crore they had collected for the Brigade.
He said Rab men got the information of financing the Brigade following confessional statements of key members of the outfit arrested earlier, including Moniruzzaman Mojumder Don.
The Rab-7 boss said Don admitted that the three lawyers' deposited the money for the outfit.
Rab later checked the money transfer documents through Bangladesh Bank and confirmed the authenticity of Don's claim.
Of the money, Shakila deposited Tk 52 lakh in cash in two instalments, Liton Tk 31 lakh and Bapon Tk 25 lakh, said the Rab-7 CO.
Assistant Director Media of Rab Chittagong Sohel Mahmud said Shakila had confessed during primary interrogation about her depositing the money.
The outfit's mastermind, known as “Boro Bhai”, is yet to be arrested. Besides, a foreign financer named Allama Libbdi of Dubai, who joined several meetings of the militant group, is also out of trace.
The Rab-7 commanding officer said they were trying to arrest everyone involved in the group.
Quoting members of the militant organisation, he said it has plans to conduct their activities under the non-government organisation “Love for Rohingyas”.
The outfit usually lures members by showing religious people “images and footages of defamation of the Quran” and “repression” of the Rohingya Muslims and ask them to join “jihad”, he added
He further said many members of the group also came from Jamaat-Shibir and Hefajat-e Islam, a Chittagong-based madrasa organisation.
On February 19, Rab first raided “Al Madrasatul Abu Baka”, a training centre for the militants of the outfit. After two days, a military training camp was discovered in Banshkhali upazila. In a drive a week later, Rab recovered a good number of arms and ammunition from the outfit's alleged arms stash in Halishahar of the port city.
A total of 29 members of the alleged militant group have been arrested in eight drives so far and all of them except one gave confessional statements, Lt Col Miftah said.
Moreover, 25 modern firearms, 4,443 bullets, 76 powerful bombs, 150 kilogrammes of explosives, other materials to make more than two thousand bombs, and training equipment were recovered in the raids.