A case, many questions
12:00 AM, September 11, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:19 AM, September 11, 2018

A case, many questions

Bedridden 82-year-old and BNP man who was abroad at the time sued by police over gathering for 'subversive acts'

Luthful Haque was treated at Labaid hospital in the capital's Dhanmondi for seven days from August 4 for hypertension, diabetes and kidney complications.

His condition was so bad that he was taken to Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and High Dependency Unit (HDU).

Though he returned home on release from hospital on August 11, family members say he is still ill and cannot move without the help of others. He is 82.

Yet police found him among a group of “miscreants from the BNP and its front organisations who gathered in Wari on September 3 as part of a plan to overthrow the government”.

Luthful is one of the 96 who are accused in a case for “assembling” at Bangladesh Boys Club playground on RK Mission Road to carry out “subversive activities”.

Talking to The Daily Star yesterday, his son Rezaul Haque said, “My father cannot move alone. Since he came back from the hospital, he has been bedridden and my mother feeds him. The day police filed the case, my father was home.”

They took the old man to the High Court on a wheelchair seeking bail on September 5, two days after the case was filed with Wari Police Station. The court granted him bail until the charge sheet is submitted.

Rezaul said once his father was involved with the BNP, but for the last six to seven years, he has been very sick and suffering from multiple diseases. Now there is no question of his being involved in politics.

Visiting the Labaid Specialised Hospital yesterday, a reporter of this paper collected Luthful's bill payment receipt that mentioned his age as 82.

Luthful received treatment there from August 4 to 11 and paid a bill of Tk 1,27,865. He was admitted to Cabin No 560.

Three nurses who attended him backed the family's statement about his ailment.

ABROAD, YET SUED 

The case also named BNP's ward-level leader Sabbir Ahmed Arif as an accused although he was not in the country when the incident allegedly took place.

His visa, immigration and hotel documents, boarding passes of his flights to and from Kolkata show that he was in India from September 1 to 4. The Daily Star obtained these papers.

“I can't stay home as police are always after me. I was not even spared from being implicated while I was in India,” Sabbir told The Daily Star recently. “It's just to harass me.”

Sabbir is accused No 13 and Luthful alias Abdul Latif is No 51 as per the case document. The Daily Star collected a copy of it.

The story of another accused in the case, Md Ibrahim, a Juba Dal leader of Wari unit, is a bit different.

Before this, he was made an accused in another case, filed with Wari Police Station on November 12 last year, on charges of creating panic among people through subversive activities earlier that month.

Ibrahim was accused No 24 among 44 named and around 50 to 60 unnamed others.

Air tickets, immigration and hotel documents show that he was in Chennai from November 7 to 16. He accompanied his ailing sister Rokeya Islam for her treatment at Apollo Hospitals there.

As his lawyer submitted the paper to a Dhaka court on December 19 last year, the court granted him bail. After reviewing the documents, the magistrate in his order said it is evident that during the time of occurrence Ibrahim was out of the country.

Ibrahim, now facing 16 cases, said he was in the country on September 3 but had no involvement in any such incident.

The complainant, Sub-Inspector Utpal Datta Apu of Wari Police Station, in the case statement mentioned that after a tip-off, he along with other policemen went near Bangladesh Boys Club playground at 11:55am on September 3 but the miscreants fled away.

Later, quizzing people at the scene, it was learnt that 96 identified and many unknown others assembled there to carry out subversive activities, he said.

Visiting the playground around 10:30am yesterday, a reporter of this paper found over a dozen youths playing cricket there.

Asked about BNP men's alleged gathering on September 3, one of them said, “We play here every day. We neither saw nor heard about any such incident.”

At least 10 people living around the playground said they did not see any chaos on that day.

The case was filed at 2:05pm and it mentioned the incident occurred at 11:55am, just hours ago.  

The case statement said the BNP men fled as soon as police reached near the playground.

During the visit yesterday, it was found that the playground is fenced with an eight-foot wall and a lone entry-exit point.

Utpal said in the case that he came to know about the accused from locals near the place of occurrence and shopkeepers on the roadside footpath.

Talking to The Daily Star, employees and owners of at least 15 nearby shops said no such incident happened recently.

“I just came to know about it from you ... BNP men gathered on the playground!” said a shopkeeper, bursting into laughter.

“How can such a big gathering go unnoticed when even the news of the arrest of a small drug peddler or addict spread rapidly in the area?” asked another trader. 

Utpal refused to make any comment over the phone when he was contacted yesterday.

Azizur Rahman, officer-in-charge of Wari Police Station, said, “I will not discuss it over the phone. Come to my office and have a cup of tea.”

Asked about accusing an 82-year-old sick man and a man who was in India on the day of the alleged incident, Sohel Rana, assistant inspector general (media and PR) at Police Headquarters, said they would investigate if there is any such irregularity.

DEAD MAN SUED 

On Sunday, Bangla Daily Prothom Alo reported that BNP's Chawkbazar thana convenor Abul Azizullah, who died in May 2016, was made an accused in a case filed 28 months after his death.

According to the statement of the case filed on September 5 with Chawkbazar Police Station, Azizullah threw brickbats with other leaders and activists in Old Central Jail area that day. He even blasted cocktails with other leaders and workers.

Complainant of the case, SI Kamal Uddin, told this paper yesterday that he named the accused as per statements of witnesses following the incident. He did not get enough time to verify.

The investigation officer will correct it if anyone named as accused died earlier, he added.

THE HABIGANJ CASES

Meanwhile, in Habiganj district, where there were no safe road agitations of students, 10 cases were filed with four police stations, mentioning violence relating to the protest and accusing unnamed people.

Bidhan Tripura, police superintendent of Habiganj district, said these cases were filed after being confirmed that some incidents happened during the safe road agitation.

On August 12, SI Nazmul Islam of Habiganj Sadar Police Station filed a case with the station accusing 70 to 80 unknown miscreants who allegedly engaged in criminal activities by destroying vehicles and government property in front of JK High School of the town.

The incidents took place on July 30, according to case statement.

That day, SI Abdur Rahim of the same station filed another case accusing 100 to 120 unknown miscreants alleging that they carried out criminal activities in front of Brindaban College on July 31.

Our Sylhet correspondent reported that no such incidents of violence occurred in those areas on July 30 or 31 and no students took to the streets in the district supporting the safe road movement.

Students of schools and colleges in Dhaka began an unprecedented protest after killing of their two peers in a road accident in the city on July 29. It continued for over a week.

“This is not mandatory to file cases right after the incidents and police filed these cases after primary inquiry,” said Bidhan. 

“Unknown people were made accused as no particular names were found. But this is not to harass anyone. These cases are under progress and police are investigating those.”

[Shaheen Mollah and Doha Chowdhury contributed to this report]

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