When money can buy a proxy inmate
Is Tk 2 lakh worth 17 months of a man's life? In Manikganj, this question was answered, in a failed attempt to recreate the story from the popular Bangla movie, Aynabaji.
In November 2013, a man identifying himself as Aynal Haque from Chak Palpara village of Singair surrendered to a trial court in connection with a rape case. For 17 months, he languished in jail.
However, in 2014, he filed a petition with the High Court for scraping the conviction in the case. Following the petition, the HC issued a rule asking the government to explain why the trial court verdict should not be scrapped.
In a strange turn of events, the same year, one Aleya Begum claiming to be the convict's mother, filed another petition with the HC challenging the legality of the detention. In it, she mentioned that the person imprisoned was not actually Aynal but her son Arif Khan, a resident of the same area.
It turns out, Arif Khan had in fact opted to become a substitute criminal, a practice that traces its origins to China, where impostors or body doubles stand trial and receive punishment in someone else's place, usually for a monetary reward.
Following the petition, the HC on April 4, 2015, granted six months' bail to Arif and ordered the OC of Singair Police Station to investigate the matter.
Speaking to The Daily Star, Aynal's lawyer Golam Kibria said Arif was released following the HC order.
All this came to light two months ago, when Kibria was going through the case documents and found an HC order of bail for one Arif Khan in relation to the rape case his client was in jail for.
He mentioned the anomalies to the HC and then, the court called for all documents of the case.
The lawyer said Nari O Shishu Daman Tribunal (Tribunal for Prevention of Women and Children Repression) of Manikganj sentenced Aynal to life on January 20, 2013, in the rape case filed in 2003. However, Aynal had already left for Malaysia in 2009.
Citing the case documents, Kibria told The Daily Star that Aynal, now 40, had an extramarital affair with a woman, whose husband was then abroad.
The woman filed the case against Aynal after becoming pregnant.
Kibria added that Aynal remained absconding ever since the case was filed.
The woman went on to give birth to a child.
Later on, she married another man, Kibria said, adding that she was now abroad with her husband.
To ensure a clean break for Aynal, his relatives offered Arif, a local of the area, Tk 2 lakh to be used for going to Malaysia to change his fortune, Kibria said.
Aynal soon returned to the country from Malaysia on June 5, 2015, and surrendered to the trial court the same year in connection with the case and the court sent him to jail.
Following all these new revelations, police picked up Arif from Manikganj on Tuesday and he was produced before the HC. That is when a very tangled story slowly started to become clearer.
Arif was produced before the HC in connection with petitions filed challenging a lower court verdict that sentenced the original accused, Aynal, to life.
The HC bench of Justice AKM Abdul Hakim and Justice SM Mozibur Rahman sent Arif to jail and ordered the officer-in-charge of Singair Police Station to take appropriate legal action against him.
Advocate Kibria said that when all this was brought to the court's notice, the HC at different times summoned the OC of Singair Police Station and Arif's mother and heard their statements. It also ordered the jail authorities to produce Aynal before it.
Accordingly, Aynal was produced before the HC and the court heard his statement.
Aynal then moved a petition before the HC for scrapping his conviction and sentence in the rape case and the HC issued a rule asking the authorities concerned of the government to explain why the conviction and sentence should not be scrapped, the lawyer said.
The OC of Singair Police Station also appeared before the HC bench and submitted a probe report, saying Arif surrendered to the trial court and served in jail instead of Aynal in exchange for money.
After hearing statements from Arif and the OC, the HC yesterday sent Arif to jail and asked the OC to file a case against him.
The court adjourned the hearing of an appeal filed by Aynal seeking bail in the case till July 26, Kibria said.