Jail Killing Day Today: Wait for justice far from over
It has been 42 years after the killing of the four national leaders at the erstwhile Dhaka central jail, but the authorities are yet to bring any killers to book.
The government even could not trace nine who were convicted in the jail killing case although it made strong efforts through diplomatic channels, intelligence agencies and the Interpol to bring home the fugitive killers of the four leaders and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
However, the government insists that bringing all the 11 fugitives back home is a top-priority issue for it and efforts are on in all possible ways.
Rashed Chowdhury and Noor Chowdhury are hiding in the USA and Canada.
Amid such a situation, the nation is observing the 42nd anniversary of the Jail Killing Day today to mourn the four leading figures of Liberation War -- Syed Nazrul Islam, Tajuddin Ahmad, AHM Quamruzzaman and M Mansur Ali.
They were shot dead following repeated bayonet charges at the then Dhaka jail on this day in 1975. The leaders were put behind bars soon after the August 15, 1975 bloodbath that claimed the lives of Bangabandhu and most of his family members.
The four leaders led the Liberation War in 1971 after Bangabandhu had been detained by the Pakistan army.
According to media reports, US Ambassador to Bangladesh Marcia Bernicat in August 2015 had informed Dhaka that fugitive Rashed was staying in her country after securing political asylum.
A government taskforce, working since 2010 to trace and bring back the absconding killers, came to know that another convicted Noor was residing in Canada illegally.
The country refused to deport him as its policy doesn't approve sending a death row convict back to his homeland. Canada, however, reportedly didn't grant Noor's application for political asylum.
The taskforce has no confirmed information about the whereabouts of the other fugitives as they are always on the move, a taskforce member told The Daily Star, requesting anonymity.
Law Minister Anisul Huq said the government was planning to set up a commission to identify those who were behind the killing of Bangabandhu and the four national leaders.
The commission might be formed early next year, he told this correspondent yesterday.
Attorney General Mahbubey Alam, a member of the taskforce, expressed frustration that the fugitive killers of Bangabandhu and the four national leaders could not be brought back home yet.
He said the government was trying hard through diplomatic and other channels to bring them back home to execute their sentences.
The AG also said some of the killers of Bangabandhu and the four national leaders were “same individuals” and a few of them have already been executed.
The Supreme Court in its judgment 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, now in Australia on leave, said in the verdict.
The SC on April 30, 2013 had handed death penalties to three former army personnel and life imprisonments to eight others for killing the four national leaders.
The three convicted accused, who were awarded capital punishment, are Risalder (retd) Muslemuddin, Dafadar (dismissed) Marfat Ali Shah and Dafadar (dismissed) Abdul Hashem Mridha.
The eight jailed for life 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 upheld the judgment of a Dhaka court that convicted and sentenced Muslemuddin, Marfat and Hashem Mridha to death and handed life 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 murder case in 2010.
The following year, the SC exempted the four from the charges of killing the national leaders in jail as they were executed.
Earlier in August 2008, the High Court had upheld the capital punishment for Muslemuddin and acquitted Marfat, Hashem Mridha, Farooq, Shahriar, Mohiuddin and Bazlul Huda in the jail killing case.