Was CID under pressure to exculpate key suspects?
We are surprised to learn that names of six people were dropped from the charge sheet of a high-profile case over laundering of Tk 2,000 crore filed two years ago. According to our report, the six people were members of a powerful syndicate that used to control the tender bidding process in Faridpur, led by former minister Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain's brother Khandaker Mohtesam Hossain, who is behind bars now. According to locals, police and intelligence sources, the syndicate exercised absolute power during the time when Khandaker Mosharraf became a lawmaker and later a minister. Although some of the accused who were arrested in connection with the case mentioned the six in their confessional statements, CID officials excluded them from the charge sheet. Why?
Three police officials with direct knowledge of the investigation process expressed their suspicion that some of the syndicate members might have been let go in exchange for money. This is a serious allegation, and needs to be investigated properly.
Since the syndicate's aggressive tender manipulation was known by all in the district, including the police department and local politicians, the dropping of the six big names has raised a lot of questions – not just about the CID report's authenticity but also about what could lead to the police doing that. Was there any kind of pressure or influence? Were the six let off the hook because they were people with political connections? Or was it plain inefficiency on the part of the CID who didn't care to dig deep into the matter?
While the CID officials who investigated the case said that there was a lack of information about the six people's involvement in the case, three police officials with direct knowledge of the investigation process expressed their suspicion that some of the syndicate members might have been let go in exchange for money. This is a serious allegation, and needs to be investigated properly before the CID decides its next course of action.
Moreover, an investigation by The Daily Star also revealed that the six people cleared from the charge sheet had made huge financial gains through the manipulation of tenders worth thousands of crores of taka during the tenure of Mosharraf. What is common among them is that they are all connected to the ruling party and amassed huge wealth over the last several years. They own brick kilns, land, shops, flats, markets, etc. in Faridpur and Dhaka.
Considering this, the case should be reinvestigated and the charge sheet re-submitted in full compliance with the law, as ordered by a Dhaka court recently. Knowing how long it generally takes to do such work in our justice system, we call for quick progress. And those CID officials who made the mistake must be held accountable for "unlawfully" dropping key names from a charge sheet. Equally importantly, the practice of manipulating tenders by syndicates must be stopped at all costs, and corruption in our police force must also be checked.