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14 May 2014   06:15:56 PM   Wednesday BdST A- A A+ Print this E-mail this

Latest developments over N`ganj conundrum: another suspect held

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 Latest developments over N`ganj conundrum: another suspect held

Opposition BNP chief and former premier Khaleda Zia’s Narayanganj mission for sympathizing with the widows and orphans and her demand for disbanding the elite-force RAB for the alleged complicity of three officials of its local unit in the sensational seven murders in the river-port city triggered a storm in the ruling quarter and an echo from a global human rights body, as many things surrounding the carnage remained shrouded in mystery.     

Zia made the plea during her Tuesday’s trip, which a number of government coalition leaders described as her latest political plot to fan the flames of conflict in the city and spread it all around.   

Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu, also the chief of leftwing party JSD, Wednesday went to the extent of warning that if the BNP leader tried to wage a movement, as declared, on the demand for disbanding the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) for the offence of a few, her bid would be dealt with “an iron hand”.         

Meanwhile, New York-based international HR body Human Rights Watch in an open letter urged Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wednesday to establish an independent body to investigate “evidence that RAB has been responsible for extrajudicial executions, disappearances, torture, and other serious abuses over many years”.

“The prime minister must now broaden the probe and create an independent process to ensure accountability for all cases, not just Narayanganj,” said HRW Asia Director Brad Adams.

The rights watchdog also reiterated its longstanding call that RAB be disbanded, and replaced with a fully accountable civilian law-enforcement agency dedicated to fighting crime and terrorism.

Following the abduction and apparent contract killing of seven people allegedly with connivance of the accused RAB members and other lawmen in Narayanganj, state minister for home affairs Asaduzzaman Khan announced that the prime minister had ordered ensuring that all those responsible are found and punished, regardless of their positions.

The High Court, acting on its own motion, directed that any investigation into the killings be conducted by a specially constituted body independent of the security forces, and issued an arrest warrant against the three RAB officers to be tried before civilian courts.

“After years of refusing to investigate RAB, the government has changed course and reacted quickly to the Narayanganj murders,” said Brad Adams in the report. “This is welcome and hopefully marks a shift away from years of impunity for RAB and other security forces,” he added.

Disbanding RAB is now being openly discussed in Bangladesh, HRW said, adding that BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia, who established RAB while in government, has now called for the force to be disbanded.

“This is a good opportunity for Bangladesh to deliver on its longstanding promise of zero-tolerance for human rights violations by security forces,” said Adams.

“RAB should be disbanded and replaced with a fully civilian force that operates under the rule of law and has external oversight. Death squads have no place in a democracy,” he said.

The RAB officials facing the charges are Commanding Officer of Rab-11 Lt Col Tareque Sayeed Mohammad, Maj Arif Hossain and Lt Commander SM Masud Rana. Of them, Tareque is son-in-law of Disaster Management and Relief Minister Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury Maya.

In another development, the official probe body investigating the seven murders handed over a progress report to the attorney-general (AG) office for placing it before the High Court, as the HC had ordered the formation of this panel for the investigation.

The AG office will submit the report to the HC Thursday, Deputy Attorney-General Nazmul Haque told reporters.

He wouldn’t divulge content of the report on progress so far made in the inquiry.  

Deputy Secretary of law ministry Mizanur Rahman handed over the report to the AG office in the afternoon.

The HC bench of Justice Md Rezaul Haque and Justice Gabinda Chandra Tagore is set to hold further hearing Thursday on the matter of great national interest.  

Apart from the probe body, the ministries of home and public administration, inspector- general of police, Rapid Action Battalion and Criminal Investigation Department have submitted their reports to the AG office.
On April 27, NCC panel mayor Nazrul Islam and his four aides and senior lawyer Chandan Sarker and his driver were kidnapped from the Dhaka-Narayanganj link road around the same time in broad daylight. Six bodies, including that of Nazrul and Chandan, were found floating in the Shitalakkhya river on April 30. And another was found the following day.

The other victims are Swapan, Tajul Islam, Liton, Jahangir and Ibrahim.

In the meantime, Border Guard Bangladesh personnel arrested one of the accused in the Narayanganj sensational seven-murder case from Jessore border area on Tuesday night.

Hasmat Ali alias Hashu was the third accused in the case filed in connection with the  murders and also a close aide to prime suspect Awami League leader Nur Hossain, press reports said.  

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