Gross negligence; who to blame?
Security specialists think law enforcers showed utter negligence in providing security while transporting three convicted Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh militants, including two on death row.
The prison van, carrying the militants to a Mymensingh court from Kashimpur jail, should have been escorted by a lead vehicle with additional security personnel, they observed. Instead, the van had just two constables and a sub-inspector, besides the driver.
In a filmy style hold-up, a group of miscreants intercepted the van, opened fire on police, killed a constable and snatched the three JMB men on Dhaka-Mymensingh highway at Trishal yesterday morning.
Of the JMB men, Salahuddin alias Salehin and Rakib alias Hafez Mahmud were death row convicts while Mizan alias Boma Mizan was sentenced to life imprisonment.
Inspector General- Prisons Brig Gen Syed Iftekhar Uddin said they had asked the law enforcement for security for the transportation of the criminals.
"We had informed the Rapid Action Battalion, the Special Branch of Police and Gazipur district police about this beforehand (so that they provide security on the highway)," he told The Daily Star.
"In our letter, we told Gazipur district police that dangerous death row convicts would be taken to Mymensingh from Kashimpur. But only five policemen, including a sub-inspector and the driver of the prison van, were assigned to escort the JMB men," he said.
However, there were only four cops, not five, in the van during the hold-up.
Following the incident, the home ministry has formed a four-member probe body headed by its additional secretary Nazim Uddin Chowdhury to see, within three days, if adequate security measures were taken during the transportation of the convicts.
A member of the probe team, wishing anonymity, said, "We will investigate why the deadly militants were being carried under such a poor security."
Contacted, Inspector General of Police (IGP) Hassan Mahmood Khandker did not want to comment on the police role immediately.
He said, "Besides the home ministry probe body, we too have formed a committee to look into the whole incident."
However, a former IGP said, "Had an escort vehicle led the prison van, the van could have had the time to turn back."
He also lambasted the police for their "negligence in duty".
"It was a gross negligence of the Gazipur police as they had taken the risk of carrying such dangerous criminals under such poor security," he told The Daily Star, preferring anonymity.
A top jail official also questioned the roles of the Rab and the SB.
"Though Rab and SB personnel do not usually escort a prison van, they provide security on the road used for carrying such convicts. But today (yesterday) they were absent," he said. This official too did not want to be named.
However, a high-ranking Rab official, in contrast to what the IG-Prisons said, claimed they were not informed of the transportation at all.