Jail Killing Day Today: 41yrs on, justice still eludes | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, November 03, 2016 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:36 AM, November 03, 2016

Jail Killing Day Today: 41yrs on, justice still eludes

Forty-one years have passed since the assassination of four national leaders at the Dhaka Central Jail on this very day in 1975.

It also has been more than 12 years since a trial court handed down punishment to the perpetrators of the heinous crime.

But justice still eludes the nation as the punishment for any of the 11 convicted killers could not be executed.

As it is perceived that all the convicts are hiding abroad, the government has so far traced, in definite terms, the whereabouts of only two -- one in the United States of America (USA) and the other in Canada -- but failed to bring them back.

There have been no further updates from a taskforce led by the law minister that the government constituted in 2010 to locate and bring back the absconding killers.

Against this backdrop, the nation pays tribute to the four national leaders -- Syed Nazrul Islam, Tajuddin Ahmad, AHM Qamaruzzaman and M Mansur Ali -- on the 41st anniversary of the Jail Killing Day today.

The four leaders were shot dead following repeated bayonet charges at the jail on this day in 1975. They were sent to jail soon after the August 15, 1975 bloodbath that claimed the lives of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and most of his family members.

The four leaders led the country's Liberation War in 1971 after Bangabandhu had been detained by the Pakistan army.

Talking to The Daily Star, Attorney General Mahbubey Alam, one of the taskforce members, said the government has taken necessary steps to bring the killers back.

He, however, did not elaborate on the matter.

Contacted, Law Minister Anisul Huq repeated his previous statement that the government was trying its best to bring back the fugitive killers through diplomatic channels.

“I will not reveal the progress of bringing the fugitive killers back to the country until they are brought back,” said the minister who heads the taskforce.

All the convicts are reportedly at large in the USA, Canada and some other countries.

US Ambassador to Bangladesh Marcia Stephens Bloom Bernicat in August last year officially informed Dhaka that fugitive Rashed Chowdhury was staying in her country after securing political asylum there.

The government taskforce that has been looking for the fugitives' whereabouts since 2010 learned about another convicted killer Noor Chowdhury's stay in Canada. During Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's recent visit to Canada, the issue was discussed at the highest level.

However, Canada has declined to deport him as its policy does not approve sending back a person where there is a provision of death sentence. The country, however, reportedly did not accept Noor's application for political asylum.

The Supreme Court in its judgement in the jail killing case observed that the assassinations of the four national leaders were the result of a criminal conspiracy.

“The accused couldn't have executed the killings unless very high-handed powerful state machineries were involved in the conspiracy,” Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha said in the verdict.

The government, however, has no plan to take any step to unearth “the criminal conspiracy” behind the assassination of the four liberation movement heroes due to “change in overall situation.”

“The Supreme Court observation in its verdict of the jail killing case is very good, but it is difficult to implement the observation in today's reality. The killings of four national leaders took place in 1975 and the Appellate Division has delivered the verdict in 2013,” Law Minister Anisul Huq told The Daily Star.

He said some of the killers of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the four national leaders were the same and a few of them have already been executed.

The SC on April 30, 2013 upheld the death penalty of three former army personnel and life term imprisonment of eight others for killing the four national leaders.

The three convicts, who were awarded death penalty, are Risalder (retd) Muslemuddin, Dafadar (dismissed) Marfat Ali Shah and Dafadar (dismissed) Abdul Hashem Mridha.

The eight convicts, who were handed down life term imprisonment, are Lt Col (dismissed) Khondaker Abdur Rashid, Lt Col (relieved) Shariful Haq Dalim, Lt Col (retd) SHMB Noor Chowdhury, Lt Col (retd) AM Rashed Chowdhury, Maj (relieved) Ahmed Shariful Hossain, Capt (retd) Abdul Majed, Capt (relieved) Kismat Hasem and Capt (relieved) Nazmul Hossain.

The apex court affirmed the judgement of a Dhaka court that convicted and sentenced Muslemuddin, Marfat Ali Shah and Abdul Hashem Mridha to death and handed down life term imprisonment to 12 others, including the eight, in 2004.

Four others -- Lt Col (dismissed) Syed Farooq-ur Rahman, Lt Col (retd) Sultan Shahriar Rashid Khan, Maj (retd) Bazlul Huda and Maj (retd) AKM Mohiuddin Ahmed -- were executed in the Bangabandhu assassination case.

In 2011, the SC exempted Farooq, Shahriar, Mohiuddin and Bazlul Huda from the charges as they had already been executed.

Earlier in August 2008, the High Court upheld the capital punishment for Muslemuddin and acquitted Marfat and Hashem. It also acquitted Farooq, Shahriar, Mohiuddin and Bazlul Huda.

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