3 JMB men charged with Mymensingh cinema blasts
Three militants belonging to the banned Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh have been charged yesterday for carrying out serial bombings in four cinemas in Mymensingh.
The investigators submitted eight charge sheets for a total of eight cases to a Mymensingh court against the three militants.
The accused are Salah Uddin alias Salehin, regional JMB commander for Mymensingh and Sylhet zones, Zahidul Islam alias Sumon and Anwar Hossain alias Anwar Alam. Salah Uddin is now in Dhaka Central Jail while the two others are on the run.
The charge sheets of the cases were submitted for bomb attacks around five years ago, on December 7, 2002, in four packed cinema halls -- Aloka, Ajanta, Chhayabani and Purabi. The carnage killed 21 people and injured or maimed around 200 others.
The charge sheets submitted yesterday, however, did not include any of the 40 individuals, including political leaders and intellectuals, who were detained soon after the blasts following dictating speeches of top leaders of the then ruling party pointing fingers at the detainees. The detainees were also tortured severely in custody.
The 40 detained individuals included Awami League (AL) leader Saber Hossain Chowdhury, Mymensingh AL president Principal Motiur Rahman, writer-journalist Shahriar Kabir, Prof Muntassir Mamoon and journalist Enamul Hoque Chowdhury.
A few hours into the arrests on December 8, then prime minister Khaleda Zia during her visit to Aloka Cinema said the authorities had arrested some people for their suspected involvement in the blasts. Hinting at the opposition leaders and the intellectuals, she said those who had been running a smear campaign against Bangladesh -- at home and abroad -- bear links to such terrorist attack.
Ministers and high officials of the law enforcement agencies also gave the impression that those who were detained had connection with the blasts.
Over the submission of charge sheets against JMB operatives, the political leaders and intellectuals, who were detained for their alleged involvement in the blasts, said they were arrested and tortured deliberately despite their innocence.
Different quarters had criticised the then government for arresting political leaders and intellectuals.
Amnesty International at that time in a press release expressed concern over the arrests and said Saber was detained solely for being a vocal critic of the then ruling party.
Our Mymensingh Correspondent adds investigation officer (IO) of the cases, Rafiqul Islam, assistant superintendent of criminal investigation department (CID) of police, submitted charge sheets of the eight cases filed in connection with the serial bomb blasts in four cinema halls against the three JMB men to the No 1 Cognisance Court.
First Class Magistrate Shefali Begum accepted the charge sheets.
It has been mentioned in the charge sheets that Salah Uddin, during interrogation, has confessed to the plan of attacking the cinema halls with bombs. At the house of Shaikh Abdur Rahman in Jamalpur, he along with few others chalked out a plan to hit the cinema halls. They later held another meeting at a house on College Road before their assault to destroy four projectors of the cinema halls, said sources
Shaheed, Mizan, Masud and Kamal were present at the meeting. Salah Uddin also gave a confessional statement under section 164 at the court of a First Class Magistrate on June 12, 2006.
Salah Uddin is also accused in 14 other cases filed with different police stations in the country. He was awarded capital punishment in the Gani Gomez and Hridoy Sarker murder cases filed with the Jamalpur court. Mizan is accused in 14 cases while Anwar Hossain is accused in four cases.
Among the injured in the blasts, 21 were maimed and disabled for life. The injured include Salimullah Babu, owner of Ajanta Cinema, Fazal, operator, Shaheen, employee, Nikhil Sarker, a shopkeeper and Babu, a spectator.
One of the injured, Shaheen, a young boy who now works at a local NGO, hoped that justice will be served. The victims of the blasts are living miserable lives and no one cares for them.
"Now it has been proved that I was not involved in the incident. But, I was sacked from the BSS job without proper investigation," said Enamul Hoque Chowdhury, a journalist who was arrested and tortured on suspicion of links to the blasts.
He demanded reinstatement of his job at the BSS and demanded compensation for his physical, mental and financial losses.