Babar now accused | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, October 04, 2010 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, October 04, 2010

Babar now accused

Shown arrested in 10-truck arms haul cases

In this 2004 photo, the then state minister for home Lutfozzaman Babar inspects an submachine gun from the 10-truck arms seized in the port city. File photo

Former state minister for home Lutfozzaman Babar has been accused and shown arrested in cases linked to the country's largest ever arms haul in Chittagong on April 2, 2004.
The investigation officer (IO) of the two cases filed in connection with the seizure of ten truckloads of arms and ammunition yesterday submitted a 10-day remand prayer for Babar to the Court of Metropolitan Magistrate, Chittagong.
Metropolitan Magistrate Fazlul Bari passed the order for showing Babar arrested in the cases following a prayer from IO Mohammad Moniruzzaman Chowdhury, senior ASP of Criminal Investigation Department (CID).
The court also fixed October 13 to hear the remand prayer and ordered to produce the former BNP minister before it during hearing.
Chittagong Metropolitan Public Prosecutor Kamal Uddin told The Daily Star the IO made the appeal to arrest Babar after getting information of his involvement in the arms haul.
He said a former commissioner of Chittagong Metropolitan Police (CMP) and three members of the five-member probe committee, formed by the then BNP-Jamaat-led alliance government, gave a clear picture of Babar's involvement.
"He [Babar] tried to hide the real incident and save the NSI officials who were involved in different ways. He also influenced the investigators to hide their [NSI officials'] involvement," Kamal said.
"He knew everything and everything happened within his knowledge," the PP added.
Police and coastguards found submachine-guns, AK-47 rifles, submachine carbines, Chinese pistols, rocket shells and launchers, hand grenades and bullets stuffed in around 1,500 wooden boxes during unloading those from two vessels at Chittagong Urea Fertiliser Limited (CUFL) jetty.
The seized arms and ammunition were taken to the warehouse at Dampara Police Lines in Chittagong in 10 trucks guarded by a huge contingent of police, coastguards and paramilitary BDR.
Babar, the then state minister for home, flew to Chittagong by helicopter on April 3 and said the weapons were smuggled in as part of conspiracy for subversion. He also did not rule out any link to the April 30 deadline of the then main opposition Awami League for the fall of the government.
After 140 days of this largest arms haul, the August 21 grenade attack was carried out on an AL rally on Bangabandhu Avenue to assassinate the then leader of the opposition Sheikh Hasina. Babar was also accused in the grisly grenade attack case on October 26 last year.
Earlier on April 03, 2004, two cases were filed with Karnaphuli police under section-25/B of the Special Powers Act for arms smuggling and section-19 (ka) of the Arms Act.
The arrest of Babar became almost certain since three probe committee members -- the then DIG (Special Branch) Shamsul Islam, former DIG (CID) Farrukh Ahmed and former NSI Director Brig Gen Enamur Rahman -- and the then CMP commissioner SM Sabbir Ali have recently implicated Babar and then home secretary Omar Faruk in the offence in their confessional statement under section 164.
The other members of the probe committee were the then DGFI director Brig Gen Rezzaqul Haider Chowdhury and former home secretary Omar Faruk, chief of the body.
Sabbir Ali on September 30 told a magistrate's court that Babar had ordered not to arrest the NSI officials engaged to help offloading the weapons at the CUFL jetty or not to do or say anything anywhere regarding their involvement.
The then home secretary Omar Faruk dropped names of three NSI officials including the then NSI DG Brig Gen Abdur Rahim from the probe report, Sabbir said.
Enamur Rahman in his statement said they had suggested mentioning involvement of the NSI officials with the smuggling and offloading of the arms, but the committee chief turned it down.
Farrukh Ahmed implicated Babar along with Faruk for diverting the incident and said everything was done at the diktat of Babar.
The Court of Metropolitan Sessions Judge (acting) Inamul Haque Bhuiyan on September 26 extended time for further investigation into the much-talked-about arms haul by another 60 days till November 24 this year.
This was the 10th time extension for further investigation into the cases.
During the immediate past caretaker government rule a Chittagong court on February 12, 2008 ordered for further investigation following an appeal made by then metropolitan PP Ahsanul Hoque Hena.
The investigation that followed had a major development when prime accused Hafizur Rahman gave his confessional statement on March 02 last year indicating involvement of NSI and DGFI officials.
Hafiz's statement led to the arrests of then DGFI director Maj Gen (retd) Rezzaqul Haider, NSI DG Brig Gen (retd) Abdur Rahim, NSI director Wing Commander (retd) Sahab Uddin, deputy director Maj (retd) Liakat Hossain and field officer Akbar Hossain, CUFL managing director Mohsin Talukder and general manager (admin) Enamul Haque.
Investigators during further investigation in the last 32 months interrogated around 80 people including the members of the committee to probe the incident.

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