Jaha Alam, who had languished in jail for three long years due to being wrongly identified, has demanded compensation for the years lost and sought help from the prime minister in this regard.
"No one can return me those three years that I lost. I want compensation for it," said Jaha Alam at his home in Tangail.
Early yesterday morning, Jaha Alam was released from Kashimpur High Security Jail following a High Court order to exonerate him from 26 graft cases in which he was wrongly made accused.
The HC fixed March 6 for the next hearing on the matter.
Speaking to journalists after returning to his home in Dhuburia village, Jaha Alam said although he was feeling happy being reunited with his family, he could not forget the pain of living behind bars.
"I was deprived of hearing my daughter call me 'Baba'. … My family turned destitute in the pursuit of setting me free. My mother had to work in other houses for a living and also moved around for my release. I want compensation for these," he said.
Talking to The Daily Star yesterday, eminent Jurist Dr Shahdeen Malik opined that Jaha Alam's lawyer should appeal to the HC for a compensation of Tk 10 lakh.
Only handing over punishment to the responsible persons will not heal the pain that Jaha Alam and his family member's bore in the last three years, he said.
Malik also said the people responsible for it should either be demoted or dismissed from their respective jobs.
Meanwhile, ACC Chairman Iqbal Mahmood yesterday said they had formed a one-member committee to investigate the wrongful imprisonment of Jaha Alam.
“We formed the committee to look into the irregularities in the entire matter,” he said.
ACC's Director (legal wing) Abu Hasnat Md Abdul Wadud will investigate the incident.
Talking to this correspondent, Wadud said he would look into whether ACC officials had made any mistakes and or shown negligence.
In the mean time, Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) expressed relief over Jaha Alam's release and said he should be given appropriate compensation for his loss.
In a press release, TIB said ACC's activities had become questionable.
“The incidents have created some more questions which need to be answered,” said Dr Iftekharuzzman, TIB's executive director.
Quoting media reports, he said the National Human Rights Commission had informed the matter to the ACC in May 2018. “Why [did the] ACC not take any step in eight long months? It should be investigated,” said Iftekharuzzaman.
ACC should enhance the skill of its investigation officers.
“We want to believe, that others like Jaha Alam languish in jail without trial…,” he said, adding the ACC should work earnestly to regain the people's faith.
AN EMOTIONAL REUNION
Jaha Alam returned home in the early hours yesterday after being released from Kashimpur Central Jail.
He burst into tears as he was embraced by his mother and other relatives. Afterwards in a customary ritual of cleansing, his mother Monoara Begum bathed him with milk.
Speaking to reporters, Monoara Begum echoed Jaha Alam's demand for compensation.
"I want punishment of the people who had sent my son to jail without any fault [of his own].
"I have turned destitute working for the release of my son; who will pay the compensation for it?"
Monoara also requested the authorities concerned to ensure that no mother has to see her son wrongfully imprisoned.
Several hundred people from Jaha Alam's village and those nearby it gathered at his house in the morning to catch a glimpse of him.
In 2012, the ACC filed 33 cases against a number of individuals over misappropriation of about Tk 18.5 crore from the Sonali Bank. In 26 of the cases, one Abu Salek, a businessman, was accused, ACC officials said.
Although Salek hailed from Singia village of Balia Union in Thakurgaon, in one of his bank accounts he mentioned the name of a village in Tangail's Nagarpur, where Jaha Alam lived.
During investigation of the case, Jaha Alam was wrongly identified as Salek.
Later, the ACC pressed charges before a court identifying him as Abu Salek alias Jaha Alam. He was arrested on February 6, 2016 in Narsingdi. He had been languishing in jail until yesterday.