Implicated in three “false cases” and tired of police harassment, Ahad Khalifa was desperately looking for a break.
So he shut his tailoring shop at Muradnagar Bazar in Comilla and left the country for Oman four and a half years ago.
The last time he came home was on October 25 last year with the body of his father-in-law, who died in Oman. Ahad, 36, left the country again on February 10 this year, according to his travel documents.
But his living in a faraway land, some 3,500km from home, could not save him from being implicated in another case.
On September 8, Muradnagar police named him in a case on charges of planning to carry out subversive activities.
According to the case statement, Ahad is among 33 identified and 15-20 unknown accused who were holding a secret meeting at the Muradnagar Madrasapara house of Alamgir Hossain, convener of the upazila unit Chhatra Dal on that day. There, they were planning to vandalise key installations and vehicles on the highway.
They all are members and supporters of BNP and Jamaat and their front organisations.
The accused were also planning subversive activities to cause irreparable loss to the state, the case statement claims.
Sub-Inspector Abdul Gofran, who filed the case, wrote in the statement that based on a tip-off they raided Alamgir's house at Pirkashimpur around 12:30am on September 8.
Police arrested accused Alamgir, ANM Ilias, Nayeb-e Amir (deputy chief) of Muradnagar upazila Jamaat, and Mohammad Alam, an activist of Sramik Dal, a pro-BNP workers' organisation, from the spot. The rest fled the scene, it added.
The names of the other accused, including Ahad, came up during interrogation, the case statement reads.
“I was leading a happy life in Bangladesh. I had a tailoring shop. Still I had to leave the country to get respite from being implicated in false cases,” Ahad told The Daily Star yesterday by phone from Oman.
Ahad, son of late Kenu Mia of Maddhapara in Muradnagar, said his “only fault” was that he was a neighbour of BNP leader and former MP Shah Mofazzel Hossain Kaikobad.
“I am outside the country, then how can I commit any crime back home and be accused in a case?” asked Ahad, who has three sons aged 12, 6 and 4.
He works at a sports item shop at Barka, 60km off Oman's capital Muscat, he said.
During his visit to the country last year, he secured bail in the three cases filed against him previously.
Ironically, on October 25 last year, the day they buried his father-in-law, police filed another case against him, although he had nothing to do with the incident, he claimed.
Details of this case was not immediately available.
“To my knowledge, I never harmed anyone or committed any crime for which I may be accused in any case. But sadly, I am accused in five cases, including the latest one,” he said.
The travel documents that he sent to The Daily Star show he left the country on February 10.
This newspaper could not verify the authenticity of the documents and cannot confirm if he entered the country again after that.
But Shahid Sawdagor, 60, who has a shop at Muradnagar Bazar, said he last saw Ahad in the area seven-eight months ago.
Ahad's neighbour Haji Almas, 55, confirmed this to The Daily Star.
Taslima Akter Munni, Ahad's wife, said her husband was the lone breadwinner of the family. “I have never seen him getting involved in political activities.”
Asked to explain how Ahad could possibly be present in the alleged secret meeting, Monzur Alam, officer-in-charge of Muradnagar Police Station, said, “Without investigation, I can't confirm that an Oman expatriate has been made accused in the case.”
He said they already arrested three top accused and filed the case based on their statements.
But as election nears, such inexplicable cases against BNP leaders, activists and even supporters are rising.
Some 12,000 BNP men have been arrested this month alone while about 1 lakh more have been made accused in various cases across the country, BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir told reporters at a human chain before the Jatiya Press Club on Monday.
The case of Khokon Master, 50, is no less quizzical. He is an assistant teacher at Tanki Habib Sharker High School in Comilla.
On September 8, he was at his school from 9:30am to 4:00pm, said headmaster of the school Zainal Abedin.
And yet he was made an accused in a case filed with Bangara Bazar Police Station for “holding a secret meeting” at 10:05am at the yard of the house of Sultan Ahmed, a local BNP leader, the same day.
In the case statement, SI Sujon Shyam claimed they raided the house during the meeting and arrested Sultan, Khokon Master and one Shahid Mia from the house.
Four identified and 25-30 unknown BNP-Jamaat and their front organisation leaders and activists ran away, the statement reads.
Last night, the police official hung up the phone when The Daily Star asked him how he was certain about their political identity when he did not even know their names.
The case statement also claims that the arrestees admitted during interrogation that they were planning to vandalise vehicles, create panic among people and carry out subversive activities centring a human chain planned for September 10 and a hunger strike programme on September 12 in protest against Khaleda Zia's trial inside the old Dhaka Central Jail.
“Mosharraf Hossain alias Khokon Master is an assistant teacher at our school and on September 8 he was present at the school from 9:30am to 4:00pm,” Zainal Abedin, the headteacher, told The Daily Star yesterday.
He also wrote a letter for submission before the court, certifying that the teacher was indeed at the school on the day. The Daily Star has a copy of the letter.
Shahinur Akter, wife of Khokon Master, said her husband was arrested from Tonki Bazar, 12km from Pirkashimpur from where the police claimed to have arrested him, after Maghrib prayers (around 6:15pm) on September 8.
Khokon's brother Anwar Hossain Sumon claimed that the case was totally false as no meeting took place at Pirkashimpur that day. He also said his brother was implicated in the case as they were supporters of ex-BNP MP Shah Mofazzel Hossain Kaikobad.
Contacted, OC of the Bangara Bazar Police Station Abdullah Al Mamun said, “We filed the case after being confirmed about their involvement.”
Cases like these raise serious questions about the authenticity of the charges.
Contacted last night, BNP leader Amir Khosru Mahmud Chowdhury said the government was filing such cases against BNP men to keep the party out of the election race.
“The government wants to drive the BNP leaders and activists out of the scene even before the election schedule is announced,” he alleged.
Earlier on September 3, 82-year-old Luthful Haque, who cannot even move without the help of others, was made an accused in a case filed by the Wari police in the capital, as reported in this paper on Tuesday under the headline “A case, many questions”.
According to the case statement, 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”.
In the same case, BNP's ward-level leader Sabbir Ahmed Arif was made 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 copies of these papers.
Ninety-six identified people were made accused in the case although locals claimed that no such incident took place on that day.