A Sylhet court yesterday sentenced industrialist Ragib Ali and his son Abdul Hye to 14 years in prison in a case filed for forging legal documents to grab the endowed property of Tarapur Tea Estate in Sylhet.
Sylhet Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Saifuzzaman Hiru passed the order in presence of the two, said Mahfuzur Rahman, additional public prosecutor of the court.
The court ordered equal punishment for both the accused: six years' imprisonment each under section 466 and section 468, and one year each under section 420 and section 471 of the Penal Code.
The court also fined them TK 10,000 each, in default of which they would have to serve another three months in jail.
The chief metropolitan magistrate said Ragib and his son are influential, but they forged the land ministry's official documents to grab endowed property of Tarapur Tea Estate, which was proved to the court undoubtedly.
SM Abdul Kadir, the then assistant commissioner (Land) of Sylhet Sadar, filed two cases against Ragib with Sylhet Kotwali Police Station.
One case was filed on September 25, 2005, for fabricating legal documents. It was lodged after recommendations from the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Land.
Another case was filed on November 2, 2005, for grabbing the endowed property of the tea estate. The case is now under trial with the same court.
Ragib's son Hye filed a writ petition with the High Court in 2009, seeking stay on both the cases.
However, the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court on January 19 last year ordered the lower court to resume both the cases after investigation and to hand the endowed property over to its rightful caretaker.
After getting the SC order, the chief metropolitan magistrate ordered the police to reinvestigate the cases.
On July 10 last year, the Police Bureau of Investigation submitted a charge sheet against Ragib, his son Hye, daughter Rozina Kadir, son-in-law Abdul Kadir, relative Dewan Mostak Majid and caretaker Pankaj Kumar Gupta.
The court on August 10 last year issued arrest warrant against them. Ragib and his son fled to India hours after the arrest warrant was issued.
Ragib was arrested on November 24 last year in Karimganj district of Assam in India and the Indian police handed him over to Bangladesh police the same day. His son was arrested by Zakiganj immigration police on November 12 while trying to enter Bangladesh.
After recording the testimony of 11 witnesses in the case, the court gave the verdict yesterday.
Another case was under trial with the court and it was recording testimony of the witnesses, said APP Mahfuzur Rahman.
Tarapur Tea Estate is an endowment property from 1915. In 1990, Ragib started grabbing the land of the estate after forcing its legal Shebayet (caretaker) Pankaj Kumar Gupta to leave the country, Pankaj had alleged earlier.
After grabbing 422.96 acres of the estate, Ragib built a medical college hospital and also sold 337 plots and established some other structures on the land.