12:00 AM, September 13, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:34 AM, September 13, 2018

Land grabbing: Ragib Ali and son back in jail

A Sylhet court yesterday rejected the bail petition of industrialist Ragib Ali and his son Abdul Hye and sent them to jail for a second time in a case filed for grabbing the endowment property of Tarapur Tea Estate by forging land documents.

Mohammad Mostain Billal, additional chief metropolitan magistrate in Sylhet, sent them to jail after they appeared following the order of a special Sylhet court, said advocate Shamim Ahmed, additional public prosecutor of the former court.

Earlier on August 9, Special District and Sessions Judge Dilip Kumar Bhoumik upheld the verdict of Sylhet's Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (CMM) after hearing the appeal of Ragib and his son. The special court also ordered the duo to surrender before the lower court concerned before September 17.

On February 2 last year, they were sentenced to 14 years' rigorous imprisonment each by the CMM court and fined Tk 10,000 each, in default of which they will have to serve another three months in jail.

In 1990s, Ragib started grabbing the land of the estate after forcing its legal Shebayet (caretaker) Pankaj Kumar Gupta to leave the country.

After grabbing 422.96 acres of the estate, Ragib built a medical college hospital, sold 337 plots, and established some other structures on the land. In 1999, a parliamentary watchdog on land affairs found the allegations against Ragib true and recommended legal action.

Six years later, in 2005, then land commissioner of Sylhet Sadar SM Abdul Kadir filed two cases against six people, including Ragib, with Sylhet Kotwali Police Station – one for grabbing the endowment property after forging documents of the land ministry and the other for misappropriating Tk 1,000 crore, the aggregate value of the property and the cash deposited in the bank accounts of the tea estate.

After a long legal procedure, the then Chief Justice SK Sinha ordered resumption of the case proceedings on January 19, 2016, and on May 15 that year, the Police Bureau of Investigation (PBI) filed a charge sheet accusing Ragib and his son in the first case. In the other case, the PBI charged the duo along with Ragib's daughter, son-in-law, a relative and the caretaker.

On August 10 that year, arrest warrants were issued against all six, and on that day Ragib and his son fled to India. Later, on November 12, Abdul Hye was arrested while returning to Bangladesh, and on November 24, Ragib was arrested in India.

They had been in jail until October 29, 2017 when the Supreme Court upheld their bail petition and allowed them to walk out of prison.

In the second case, the caretaker is on bail and the remaining three are on the run.