Mysteries pile on country | The Daily Star
11:00 PM, August 20, 2009 / LAST MODIFIED: 11:00 PM, August 20, 2009

Mysteries pile on country

Influenced criminal investigations leave major cases like Aug 21 confusing, unsolved; analysts seek strong body to unearth the truth


This file photo of August 21, 2004 shows an unexploded grenade next to abandoned sandals and a body on Bangabandhu Avenue. Photo: File

Political and security analysts advise the government set up a new, strong investigation body to unravel the mysteries behind the major terrorist attacks.
The suggested organisation would be comprised of experts from a wide spectrum of professions to analyse an incident from different angles.
It would work alongside the existing criminal investigation agencies that seem inadequate to crack sensational cases and unable to withstand pressure not to track down the political elements involved.
The suggestion came in conversation with The Daily Star yesterday, on the eve of the fifth anniversary of the August 21 grenade attack.
The probe into the grenade blasts had been politicised like that into many other terror strikes, which had the nation on edge over the last few years.
The way investigation officials had worked under the last BNP-led government threw into question the credibility of their findings.
Prof Imtiaz Ahmed, professor of international relations at Dhaka University, said, “The perpetrators seem to have tried to achieve many goals through the August 21 blasts. They might be some quarters at home with links abroad.
"Their motives might have been keeping the country under-developed, destroying its secular spirit, hampering its economic growth, etc. The government should form a separate investigation organisation to unearth the motives and unmask the masterminds.”
He added that every detail must come out if measures to stop recurrence of violence were to succeed.
Socio-political analyst Prof Sirajul Islam Chowdhury, historian Prof Syed Anwar Hossain and former inspector general of police ASM Shahjahan too emphasise forming a national body to solve assassinations, terrorist attacks and arms hauls.
On this day in 2004, terrorists hurled grenades at the then opposition leader Sheikh Hasina on an Awami League rally on Bangabandhu Avenue.
Hasina survived the attempt on her life but saw 23 of her party leaders and workers killed and scores injured.
President Zillur Rahman's wife Ivy Rahman was among those who died.
Three former investigation officers in the August 21 blasts case now face criminal proceedings for carrying out misleading probe during the four-party rule.
Besides politicisation, limited purview of the probe and lack of efficient investigators have long kept the nation in the dark about the conspiracy behind the attack.
From a court's verdict based on charge sheet, people can at best know who executed the attack. The masterminds, motives and the entire conspiracy would still elude them.
Former caretaker government adviser ASM Shahjahan, who was CID chief twice, suggested the government form a committee to delve into the conspiracies behind the terror attacks and assassinations since criminal investigation has its limitations in that regard.
All findings except those that may hamper national security should be let out in the open in the public interest, he continued.
"The whole truth must be uncovered for the sake of justice and the rule of law."
Referring to the recent US revelations about Bangabandhu killing, the analysts said the criminal investigation in this case could not dig up such aspects, which are too vital for the nation to miss.
Syed Anwar observed, "In cases like August 21 blasts, trial and execution of verdict are never enough. We need to know everything about the plots behind.
“The government should set up an enquiry commission that would bring out the truth and publish it in white papers."
Sirajul Islam Chowdhury said, "For special probes, we cannot depend solely on police. Because they cannot go after the political leaders with links to terrorism and organised crime, or they do not even try."
In light of these limitations, experts from different sectors should be engaged to conduct a strong and credible judicial enquiry.
Prof Chowdhury said the August 21 attack was aimed at not merely an individual but the secular principles of the state. He said it was a continuation of the August 15 bloodbath in 1975.
In most cases, the non-communal force has been the target of the attacks, he added.
Prof Anwar said it is obvious that the country's enemies, mostly rightists and extremists, do not bother to follow political norms and values while dealing with political adversaries.
Prof Imtiaz said whoever--Huji or JMB--had staged the August 21 blasts are non-state elements.
They had network in and outside the country and carried out the attack by outfoxing the intelligence agencies. They might have gone to the expense of infiltrating operatives into AL, he continued.
The perpetrators were well prepared and disciplined. They might have been aided and abetted by some other organised forces. Even a part of the state machinery might have a hand in the carnage, observed the DU professor.
“The non-state elements responsible for subversive activities can stay untouchable only if the democratic structure of a country is weak.”
Imtiaz suggested the government assign think-tanks to conduct research or probe to find out facts behind such attacks and form a body like "Public Security Council".
STATUS OF AUGUST 21 CASES
After years of drama over investigation during the tenure of BNP-led coalition government, charges were pressed against 22 people in two August 21 cases on June 11 last year.
Huji boss Mufti Abdul Hannan and BNP leader and former deputy minister Abdus Salam Pintu are among the charge-sheeted accused.
A Dhaka court on August 3 issued an order for further probe into the incident as the earlier one failed to identify the collectors and suppliers of grenades used in the attack.
Abdul Kahar Akand, senior ASP of CID, was given charge of the probe into the carnage after the court asked the police chief to submit report within two months.
"I have just reviewed the case documents and started investigation," Kahar told The Daily Star yesterday.

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