Abdul Mannan says he is 85. But leaned against a High Court corridor wall, he looked much older as he waited for bail yesterday.
He has been suffering from diabetes and heart problems for about six years now, and keeps himself confined to his home in Sylhet, he claimed.
But, according to a case filed by the Jalalabad police, Mannan vandalised vehicles and threw bricks at police in Temukhi Bypass Bridge area at 5:15pm on September 22. In the case records, he is said to be 55, which he said was laughable.
The old man came all the way from Jalalabad on Monday to seek bail from the High Court. At least 84 others, mostly BNP leaders and activists, are named as accused.
Luckily for Mannan, the HC granted his bail appeal.
Like him, nearly 1,000 people ran through the HC corridors seeking bails in cases that they claim are false. They came from everywhere -- Jessore, Kushtia, Sylhet, Chandpur, Manikganj, Narayanganj, just to name a few districts.
These cases were filed over the past few months, mostly against BNP leaders and supporters at all levels, sending panic among the BNP rank and file.
In BNP's estimation, 4,135 cases have been filed against 85,604 identified and 274,703 unidentified BNP leaders and activists from September 1 to October 4 across the country. During the same period, police arrested 4,650 BNP men in those cases.
Media reports, including The Daily Star's own reporting, suggest dozens of these cases are full of loopholes: either the alleged incident did not happen or the accused were nowhere near the scene. In many cases, the accused were, and still are, abroad. At least two of them are long dead.
The matter seemed so serious that it prompted Mohammad Javed Patwary, the inspector general of police, to order the “unit commanders” to launch some sort of investigations into the filing of the cases themselves.
At a recent meeting with the deputy inspector generals, the police boss asked senior police officials to look into how dead people, expatriates, hajj pilgrims and paralysed men came to be accused in cases, police sources said.
The BNP claims all of these cases are aimed at keeping the party men on the run so they cannot take part in polls activities.
ABROAD YET ACCUSED
More than 1,000 people “framed in fictitious cases” started crowding the High Court premises since morning. They were waiting in groups under the trees to protect themselves from the blistering heat.
Some were standing, some sitting and some others were lying on the grass. Concern, grief and anger were visible on their faces.
Many came to the court on Sunday and waited the whole day for bail, but the court did not hear their petitions though those were on the cause list.
Some of them had no clue as to how they were implicated in the case in the first place.
Rezaul Karim is one of them. He is an accused in a case filed with Abhaynagar Police in Jessore over an incident that happened when he was in India.
According to the case statement, Rezaul is one of the 164 named and 500 unnamed accused who took part in vandalising and torching a local Jubo League office on September 30.
He arrived in Bangladesh on October 1 from India, according to his travel documents.
“Our only fault is that we are with the BNP. Police will continue to file cases against us even after our deaths. I am at a loss for words,” he said, as he waited on the HC premises for bail.
His name was mentioned twice in the case -- as accused No. 14 and 31. Names of two other accused were also mentioned twice, exposing the manner in which the case was filed.
The two are Shahidul Islam, who has been named as accused No. 9 and 113, and Abdul Majid Biswas, who is named as accused No. 8 and 32.
'ABDICATED BNP POST 5YRS AGO'
Nurul Haque Molla, 78, chairman of Abhaynagar upazila in Jessore, is also an accused in the same case.
He has been coming to the HC for the last three days to secure bail. He is afraid that he may have to languish in jail at this stage of his life.
Nurul was seen walking on the court premises with the support of a young man. In the case statement, police said he was 65.
He did not get bail yesterday.
“I abdicated the post of president of the upazila BNP five years ago as I am ill and cannot take part in party activities. Yet police made me an accused,” he said.
He claimed police implicated BNP men even though the local Jubo League office was vandalised during a clash between two AL groups.
FATHER ARRESTED FOR SON
Another accused of the case, Masum Billah, said police arrested his 65-year-old father Abdul Latif from their village home at Pathalia in Kushtia on October 1, failing to arrest him.
His father was not a named accused, but he was implicated as an unnamed one.
“Police did not spare even my ill father though he was not accused in any case,” Masum lamented.
Bakhtiar Rahman Moral was in a great dilemma. As he was running from one room to another, he was not sure if he should attend the burial of his cousin who died yesterday or pursue his bail for a crime he claims he did not commit.
“My brother died at 7:30am today [yesterday] at a city hospital following a heart attack. I cannot go to Jessore to bury him as police are looking for me,” he said.
According to the case statement, BNP-Jamaat men vandalised vehicles and set fire to those on September 30 to foil the 21 August Grenade attack case verdict and the upcoming general election to impede development and make Bangladesh a dysfunctional state.
Bakhtiar claimed he had nothing to do with the incident.
Over the last one week, hundreds of people, mostly BNP leaders and activists, are coming to the HC for anticipatory bail as the charges of these cases are cognisable offences and police can arrest them anytime.
Asked about such cases, Sohel Rana, assistant inspector general (media) at the Police Headquarters, said “some sort of errors” may occur while filing cases.
“The chiefs of the respective units have been directed to look into such cases that came to the attention of the Police Headquarters,” he told The Daily Star last night.