HARD TO BELIEVE
Tara Mia finds it difficult to even move his right arm deformed since birth. A bit tall and scrawny, the man from Sunamganj's Jamalganj upazila uses his left hand to have meals.
Yet, he is one of the 52 people, who allegedly attacked police with machetes, hockey sticks and iron rods in Mallikpur Bazar area around 4:40pm on December 28, two days before the 11th parliamentary polls.
He was named as an accused in a case filed by police with Jamalganj Police Station two days later.
"How can I attack policemen when my right hand is almost unusable and even my left hand does not function properly," Tara Mia told this correspondent on the High Court premises yesterday.
"I don't do politics. I live on alms ... I'm worried about my family's survival," said the 45-year-old man who went to the HC to seek anticipatory bail in the case.
Tarikul Islam, assistant sub-inspector at Jamalganj Police Station, filed the case accusing 52 named and 70 to 80 unnamed people.
According to the case statement, the accused gathered unlawfully in Mallikpur Bazar area and brought out a procession in support of "sheaf of paddy" around 4:40pm on that day.
They blocked the road and attacked police, leaving at least five policemen, including the complainant, injured.
"I did not participate in any procession whatsoever, let alone attacking police," said Tara Mia.
He was anxiously pacing up and down the court premises.
The fear of arrest brought the man to the HC from Sunamganj on January 15. Since then, he has been staying either at the roadside or empty places as he cannot afford to rent a hotel room.
His wait for bail lingered as the court could not hear his petition yesterday due to time constraint.
Like him, around 600 to 700 people thronged the HC corridors yesterday, seeking bail in cases they claim to be false.
These cases were filed in weeks before the election, mostly against BNP leaders and supporters, allegedly for vandalising campaign offices of the ruling Awami League and its allies, or for planning subversive activities.
They came from Sunamganj, Jashore, Sylhet, Bogura, Narayanganj, Sherpur, Netrakona, Mymensingh and several other districts. Many of them came to the capital over a week ago to seek bail.
A few of them told this newspaper that the incidents happened but they were falsely implicated in the cases.
Several hundred people turned up on the HC premises every day for the last one week. Many of them got bail while others had to wait for hearing.
Yesterday, they were waiting in groups under trees. Some were standing while several others were seen lying on the grass. Anxiety and anger were writ on their faces.
Seventy-year old Mofazzal Hossain from Sherpur's Jhenaigati upazila is one of them. Weary, he was seen dozing off around 2:00pm under a tree on the court premises.
He did not even know the charges brought against him. He was an accused in a case filed with Jhenaigati Police Station.
"I am not involved in politics but I was implicated in a political case,” he said.
Yards away, Manik Mia, who was made an accused along with Tara Mia, was crying, holding another person.
"I am very poor ... I earn a living by rearing ducks ... sometimes I work as a day labourer.
"They made me an accused, but I don't know how I will continue the case against me,” Manik said in a chocked voice.
"I took a loan of Tk 1,000 from a neighbour, but I have already spent most of it in the last few days," he said.
Asked about the case against Tara and Manik, the complainant, ASI Tarikul, said only those involved in the incident were made accused.
TS Ayub, president of Bagarpara upazila BNP in Jashore, is one of the over 1,000 BNP men, who were accused in at least eight cases filed a couple of days before the polls.
"We have been away from home much before the election. If we don't get bail, we will not be able to return home," he said.
The Daily Star could not independently verify their claims. But there have been media reports that “ghost” cases were filed before the election, and even dead men, people staying abroad and injured persons were made accused.
A couple of months ago, the police authorities ordered the unit chiefs to scrutinise how such cases were filed in different parts of the country in September and October.
For example, police in the capital filed 38 cases against several thousand leaders and activists of the BNP and its front organisations within 12 hours of the BNP rally on September 30 at Suhrawardy Udyan.
The Daily Star visited the 10 spots named as “place of occurrence” in the cases filed with Hazaribagh, Dhanmondi, Kalabagan, New Market, Kamrangirchar, Motijheel, Paltan, Shahbagh, Ramna and Jatrabari police.
This newspaper spoke with more than a dozen roadside vendors, shop owners and their employees and local residents around each of those spots. None of them could recall any incident of attack on police, vandalism or obstruction of police duty as claimed in the case statements.