PM's adviser sees criminal link of Limon, his father | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, May 21, 2011 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, May 21, 2011

PM's adviser sees criminal link of Limon, his father

HR activists don't agree with his claim

Prime Minister's Defence Adviser Maj Gen (retd) Tarique Ahmed Siddique has defended the Rapid Action Battalion by terming college student Limon Hossain of Jhalakathi a criminal.
Both Limon, whose left leg was amputated after a Rab team shot him on March 23, and his father are members of a criminal gang, claimed Tarique Ahmed at a press conference with a select group of reporters on Thursday.
The Daily Star came across the statement from reports of the journalists who attended the briefing at the Prime Minister's Office.
The Daily Star and the Prothom Alo were not on the list of 10 to 12 invitees despite being the highest circulated dailies of the country.
At the press briefing, Tarique also said some elements within the country in collaboration with international non-government organisations are conspiring to get an important force like Rab disbanded.
“I affirm that international NGOs along with different groups, organisations and individuals within the country are hatching a conspiracy to show Rab a failure and also to get an important force disbanded.”
The remarks came at a time when the battalion is provoking severe criticism at home and abroad for reported extra-judicial killings.
Particularly the March 23 incident has hit the headlines and the country's media presented the case as a blatant example of human rights violation.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) in its recently released report cited the shooting of Limon and demanded the Rab be disbanded unless the force fails to improve human rights practices in six months.
“HRW should not have made the comment about Rab. Actually, they [the rights body] come with specific agenda and sometimes to embarrass the government,” Tarique said.
Tarique claimed the government in a recent survey, conducted after a human rights body published its report, found 95 percent people consider the Rab a “friendly force” and feel its necessity.
On media reports against Rab, Tarique said, “The writing against Rab part of a conspiracy. We have information and evidence that the writers have involvement with militancy.”
“A national newspaper editor is assisting militants. We have evidence that the editor held a meeting with militants. The matter is under advanced investigation,” said Tarique without mentioning the name of the newspaper or the editor.
Rather he mentioned the editor is on the list of the people involved directly or indirectly with the August 21 grenade attack.
“We have enough evidence to bring the editor to justice any moment now. But we are not doing so as the prime minister does not believe in harassing journalists,” he added.
Citing Rab's success in combating militancy, Tarique said the immediate past BNP-Jamaat-led government did not engage Rab in counterterrorism.
“During that time, I was in DGFI [Directorate General of Forces Intelligence]. I've seen the BNP government supporting militants. Militants asked the government for support promising not to carry out any subversive activities inside the country. But later, they carried out terrorist attacks one after another inside the country,” said Tarique.
“The newspaper publishing the highest number of reports on Limon seeks Rab assistance in crisis. Rab had helped the newspaper when threats were made that the newspaper office would be set ablaze or a shroud was sent to the newspaper office. The Rab also resolved family problems of the editor,” said Tarique.
“I don't understand how Rab can harm the interest of the editor? Is he linked with militancy?” he added.
He said the newspaper has published 48 reports in 40 days covering the case of Limon.
“Amputation of Limon's leg is obviously regrettable. But a couple of newspapers are writing too much on the issue. They are concentrating more on abolition of Rab rather than expressing solidarity with Limon,” Tarique said.
He criticised the newspapers for not publishing any report when Morshed Jamadar, a local criminal wanted by Rab, chopped off legs of a member of community watch in Jhalakathi.
“Limon was not shot point-blank. He was not even the target. Limon received the bullet while trying to escape during a drive to capture criminal Morshed Jamadar,” said Tarique.
His statement differs widely with the findings by Rab DG Mokhlesur Rahman, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Chairman Mizanur Rahman and also some rights bodies.
The director general of Rab on April 11 stated that Limon Hossain was the victim of a “shootout” between a Rab team and criminals while the NHRC chairman repeatedly termed the cases filed against Limon false.
“Limon is a young boy, not a notorious criminal. However, he is an accused in a criminal case. He just became the victim of the incident,” the Rab DG said in his earlier comment.
Local Awami League lawmaker BH Haroon substantiated the Rab DG's statement after visiting the area.
“He [Limon] is a very innocent boy. He is not a criminal. There is no allegation or criminal record against the boy in the area,” said Haroon, adding the Rab DG was right in his statement.
About Tarique's remark on Limon and his father, he said, “Limon's father is a simple man, a simple farmer.”
In an immediate reaction to Tarique's statement, Ain o Shalish Kendra (ASK) Executive Director Sultana Kamal said, “Such statement by a responsible man, who holds such an important office, on a case under trial, is tantamount to influencing the judicial process.”
“He [Tarique] should be aware of it,” said Sultana Kamal.
Regarding the press conference where only select few were invited, she said, “It appeared to be an exclusive press conference. I want to know whether the invitation was made deliberately.”
Pointing out Tarique's statement that the BNP government nurtured militancy, Sultana Kamal said, “What was his role as a responsible officer at that time? Did he raise alarm? If not, we can hold him partly responsible for the loss of lives during that time.”
ASK conducted an independent investigation into Limon's case and found none in the entire area to come up with criminal allegation against the boy.
The force, however, filed two cases -- for possessing illegal firearms and obstructing law enforcers from carrying out their duties and attempted murder -- accusing Limon.
NHRC Chairman Mizanur Rahman argues “A man can not be called criminal and punished until it is proved by a court.”
“Who gave Rab the authority to fire at Limon? We have protested the incident on this ground,” he added.
“Transparency and accountability must be established inside an institution for the sake of its own durability. And the institution must get rid of culture of impunity, if there is any,” said former inspector general of police ASM Shahjahan.
“We believe in the Rab DG and his statement. If there is further allegation, that must be properly investigated too,” he added.

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