53 cases over hefajat mayhem: 9 years gone, probe yet to be completed

Law enforcers are yet to wrap up the investigation of any of the 53 cases filed in the capital over the May 2013 Hefajat mayhem.

The probes remain stalled for nine years though Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan in December 2020 hinted at completing those.

His hint came amid threats by Hefajat-e-Islam leaders of knocking down all sculptures in the country.

The minister then said, "The cases have been pending for quite a long time. We have to dispose of them."

Asked about the state of the investigations, DMP Additional Commissioner (Detective Branch) AKM Hafiz Akhter yesterday said they were yet to complete the probes in any of 53 the cases.

"We had a meeting earlier to complete the investigations, but we could not make much progress as we were busy in tackling other crimes," he told The Daily Star.

On May 5, 2013, thousands of members of Hefajat, a Qawmi madrasa-based Islamist organisation, clashed with law enforcers and ruling Awami League men, turning the capital's Motijheel and Paltan areas into a battleground.

They set fire to hundreds of shops, vehicles, and police outposts and looted stores, including those of Islamic books. Clashes also took place in several other districts in the following couple of days.

Although Hefajat claimed that about 2,000 of its leaders and activists were killed in the incident, the government put the death toll at 13, including three policemen.

The organisation, however, could not provide names and addresses of its men who it claimed to have been killed.

A total of 83 cases were filed in seven districts, including Dhaka, accusing 3,416 named and 84,796 unnamed people. Many of the accused were from the Hefajat, the Jamaat-e-Islami and the BNP.

Police, government officials, relatives of the victims, Islamist leaders, businessmen, shop owners, employees of different offices and political parties filed those cases.

Only one of the cases has so far been disposed of in Bagerhat. Police have pressed charges in 18, and submitted final reports in two others. Investigations of the 62 have been stalled, said police sources.

Of the 83 cases, 53 were filed in the capital against more than 50,000 people, including seven for murder.

Despite several attempts, this correspondent could not reach the home minister yesterday over the phone for comments.