Police yesterday pressed charges against BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia and 26 leaders and activists of the BNP-led 20-party alliance in two cases filed for arson attacks on buses in the capital's Darussalam and Gabtoli.
The cases were lodged with Darussalam Police Station for the attacks during the alliance's last year countrywide blockade.
This is the third time that Khaleda, also a former prime minister, has been charged in criminal cases. Currently, she stands accused in five corruption cases and three defamation and a sedition cases. Besides, she is facing four other cases filed over the last year's blockade violence.
In the First Information Reports (FIR) of the two cases, Khaleda was not named as an accused. But the FIR mentioned that the attack was carried out on her instructions.
Of the 27 accused, the charge sheets showed Khaleda and 24 others as fugitives as they are not on bail in the cases. The investigation officers of the cases appealed to the court to issue arrest warrants for them. Only BNP leaders Amanullah Aman and Abul Kalam are now on bail in the cases.
According to the charge sheets, Khaleda masterminded the arson attacks on two buses on February 4 and March 3 last year.
In the first case, it was alleged that as per directives from the BNP chief, a group of BNP leaders and activists torched a minibus in the city's Shah Ali Mazar area around 6:00pm on February 4.
In the second case, it was alleged that on the BNP chief's instructions, some BNP-led 20-party combine activists set fire to a minibus at Gabtoli around 6:30pm on March 3.
Sub-inspector Abdur Razzak of Darussalam Police Station, also the investigation officer of the first case, submitted the charge sheet against Khaleda and 23 others to the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate's Court of Dhaka.
In the second charge sheet, Khaleda and 26 others have been charged with arson attack. The names of twenty-four accused, including Khaleda, are common in both the charge sheets.
SI Shahidur Rahman of the police station pressed the charges with the same court.
The accused include BNP leaders Amanullah Aman, Habib-Un-Nabi Khan Sohel, Mir Sarafat Ali Sapu, Azizul Bari Helal, Sultan Salauddin Tuku, Khaleda's Special Assistant Shamsur Rahman Shimul Biswas and her Press Secretary Maruf Kamal Khan.
In May last year, detectives pressed murder charges against BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia and 37 others, mostly her party men, for their alleged involvement in a petrol bomb attack on a bus in the capital's Jatrabari that killed one person and injured scores in January last year.