Huji grew up in BNP's care | The Daily Star
12:01 AM, June 24, 2014 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:37 PM, August 20, 2015

Huji grew up in BNP's care

Huji grew up in BNP's care

Altaf Hossain Chowdhury, home minister in the last BNP-led government, had assured Mufti Abdul Hannan, kingpin of the Islamist militant outfit Huji, that the militant leader could stay in the country without any fear.
The ex-minister told Hannan that he could even stay in Dhaka and move around freely.
It was his assurance that made Hannan stay in the capital and ditch the idea of fleeing the country.   
At that time, Moulana Muhiuddin, senior leader of Jamiat-e-Ulama-e-Islam, appeared as a blessing for Hannan, and played the role of mediator between Hannan and Altaf.
The Huji leader submitted a petition to the home ministry through Muhiuddin to have his name dropped from the case over the August 21 grenade attack on an Awami League rally in the capital in 2004. The attack was aimed at assassinating AL President Sheikh Hasina, then leader of the opposition.
The AL chief narrowly escaped the attack that claimed the lives of 24 leaders and workers of her party.
Hannan's fate became uncertain after Altaf was removed from the helm of the home ministry in April 2005 for his poor performance.
The situation turned worse for him a few months later when the banned Islamist outfit JMB carried out countrywide serial bomb blasts in August 2005.
The serial blasts caused a huge uproar and the government came under immense pressure to launch a crackdown on Islamist militants.
In a drive, the law enforcers finally arrested Hannan and top JMB men in early October that year. A few days into his capture, the Huji was also banned.
The arrest took Hannan by surprise. He claimed the law enforcers were not supposed to arrest him since some influential ministers of the BNP-led government had assured him that he would be exempted from the August 21 grenade attack case.
Hannan submitted a mercy petition to the prime minister, home minister and several other ministers, and received positive responses from them.
They assured him that he would be let off. Some BNP leaders had even recommended withdrawing the cases filed against the Huji leader.
Like other Islamist militants, the Huji leader had enjoyed the BNP government's blessing for around four years during the four-party alliance's tenure from 2001.
Proceedings in some cases against Hannan were stalled, as the BNP-led government was reluctant to have the cases disposed of.
A glaring example is the murder case filed over the Ramna Batamul blast in 2001. It reflects the politics of patronising Islamist militants in the country.
In a confessional statement in June 2001, Moulana Akbar Hossain, an accused in the case, gave details of how the fanatics carried out the attack and who were involved in it. But the change of power in October 2001 made the fate of the case uncertain.
Assuming office, the BNP-led government showed no interest in disposing of the Ramna Batamul case. Akbar's confessional statement was ignored. And he was even given bail.
Investigating officers were changed several times, which hampered the enquiry into the bomb blast that killed 10 people on the morning of Pahela Baishakh.
Huji-led militants were used to carry out several attacks, including the August 21 grenade attack on an AL rally in the capital, to eliminate political opponents.
The August 21 attack was the outcome of collaboration between Huji, influential leaders of the BNP and the Jamaat, and some officials of the home ministry, police, Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI), National Security Intelligence (NSI) and Prime Minister's Office (PMO).
Before the attack, Huji leaders met Tarique Rahman, BNP senior vice chairman, twice and got the go-ahead.
The meetings were held at Hawa Bhaban, widely considered the alternative seat of power during the last BNP-Jamaat coalition rule.
At both the meetings, Huji leaders sought support in executing their plans to assassinate Hasina and other top AL leaders.
Tarique assured the Huji men of all-out support.
This shows how Huji was given shelter and used by the BNP-led government against its political rivals.
The Ramna Batamul case, however, saw a breakthrough after the January 11 changeover in 2007.
The army-backed caretaker government led by Fakhruddin Ahmed directed the law enforcement agencies to expedite the investigation into the case.
The final charge sheet was pressed in December 2008, and Hannan and 13 of his associates were charged in the case.
The trial finally started in 2009, eight years after the blast.

[The report has been prepared on the basis of Mufti Hannan's statements to the press and court, and the charge sheet of the August 21 grenade attack case.]

 

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