Six-year-old Parag made national headlines when he was abducted in broad daylight, leaving his mother, sister and driver of their car with gunshot injuries, right in front of his house in 2013.
While he was found alive in the same locality three days later, his family is far from getting justice, with the case drifting along for over six years, and the family and witnesses still not feeling safe enough to testify.
At the latest hearing of the case for recording witness statements yesterday, Parag's family members did not appear to testify at the Women and Children Repression Prevention Tribunal-4. The court of Judge Tabassum Islam set September 23 for recording witness statement. It also issued a production warrant against one of the accused, as he was absent.
The case of Parag's abduction was filed with Dakkhin Keraniganj Police Station by his grandmother Sabitri Mondol on November 11, the same day Parag was picked up. So far, only two witnesses out of 48 have testified to the court.
Of the 12 accused, eight are on bail, two have jumped bail, and one fled from prison. One of the accused (who was on bail) died in July 2017, while another (who had jumped bail) was killed in an alleged gunfight with police, according to police records. Five of the accused have admitted to the crime in confessional statements to the court.
“Witnesses are not appearing before the court despite being summoned several times due to security concerns, as many of the accused are on bail; they still live in the locality and are involved with criminal activities,” said one of the key witnesses, wishing not to be named.
Parag's father Bimol Chandra Mondol said, “We appeared before the court on the first two dates, but could not give statements,” adding, “We feel unsafe as all alive accused are on bail.”
Parag gave a judicial statement to the court on February 27, 2013 describing his abduction. Police filed a charge-sheet against 12 for kidnapping Parag and shooting his mother, sister and their car driver on March 21 the same year, and charges were framed against them by the court on October 23.
The trial saw a lengthy delay after the High Court stayed trial for four months, following a petition by an accused on June 15, 2014.
The trial resumed on January 4, 2016, but the court could not start recording witness statements until August 1, 2016, when the first two witnesses gave their depositions.
Since then, all court dates for recording further witness statements ended in vain as the witnesses did not appear.
“I will try my best to produce the witnesses before the court for quick disposal of the case,” Special Public Prosecutor Md Forkan Miah had told The Daily Star a few months ago when asked about the delay in trial. However, his efforts brought no result, at least until yesterday.
Meanwhile, even after six years of the incident, the scar left on Parag's psyche has not faded. “Parag still doesn't go outside to play. He confines himself to home,” said his father Bimol. “We have to accompany our child everywhere.”
After Parag's recovery, the High Court had issued a rule on law enforcers to provide 24-hour security at his house. “Earlier, two cops were assigned to guard our house round the clock, but they only guard us at night,” said Parag's mother Lipi Rani Mondol.
Asked about it, Officer-in-Charge of Dakkhin Keraniganj Police Station Md Shah Jaman told The Daily Star, “I joined the police station six months ago. When I came, I knew policemen are guarding their house at night, and I have continued that. I have not been informed that their family has any security concern. If they contact me, I will take steps.”