Zafar Dular is the main witness of a case.
In the case, filed with Hazaribagh police in the capital on Sunday, police charged 48 named and many unknown people, mostly BNP men, with attacking police and obstructing them from doing their job.
The problem is Zafar, who claims to be very close to police, has no idea about the incident.
“What case are you talking about?” Zafar said when The Dialy Star asked him if he was aware of the case and his being the prime witness.
During the conversation inside the Hazaribagh Police Station around 12:30pm on Wednesday, his phone rang and he swiftly answered the call.
“Sir, I am talking with a journalist. I have heard that Moniruzzaman-2 sir made me a witness of a case,” Zafar told the caller, whose identity he would not divulge.
Moments later, a constable, who was standing by Zafar all the while, took him aside.
Within a minute, Zafar, 36, returned to this correspondent and said, “I am very close to police and do many things for sirs [police officers] … I will say everything before the court, not to you.”
He claimed to be a rickshaw puller.
'SAW NOTHING, HEARD NOTHING'
The complainant of the case is sub-inspector Moniruzzaman, one of the two Moniruzzamans of Hazaribagh Police Station and is reffered to as Moniruzzaman-2 in the First Information Report.
In the case statement, Moniruzzaman claimed that leaders and activists of Hazaribagh thana unit BNP and some miscreants gathered on Salam Sarder Road, blocking traffic around 4:40pm on Sunday.
They were carrying sticks, brick chips and pieces of glass. As police tried to disperse them, the accused threw brickbats and broken glass at police. Later, other policemen rushed to the spot and chased the troublemakers away, the FIR said.
Police also arrested seven activists of Jubo Dal, BNP's youth front, from the scene. Police learned the identities of the other accused by quizzing the arrestees, it added.
Moniruzzaman also claimed in the case statement that he and other on-duty policemen were injured in the attack, but did not mention any number or names of his “injured” colleagues.
Over the last few days, The Daily Star spoke with at least 20 people who have shops or live within 100 yards of the spot to verify the police claim.
Each of them said they were unware of any procession, rally, road blockade or attack on police that day.
“We did not see any BNP procession in the last couple of months. It is impossible that I would not notice such an incident. I open my shop early in the morning and close it deep into the night,” said Sadek, whose teastall is just a few feet from the alleged scene.
Ekram Ali Mia, officer-in-charge of Hazaribagh Police Station, insisted they filed the case only because the “incident happened”.
Police filed 38 similar cases against several thousand leaders and activists of BNP and its front organisations within 12 hours of BNP's rally on Sunday at Shurawardy Udyan. At the rally, top BNP leaders instructed party activists to prepare simultenously for movement and the national election.
About 300 BNP leaders and activists have been arrested in connection with these cases whose charges are almost identical.
In some of the cases, police claimed that the BNP men vandalised buses at different places, but failed to mention the registration number of any of those buses.
The Daily Star reporters visited the 10 spots named as “place of occurance” in the cases filed with Hazaribagh, Dhanmondi, Kalabagan, New Market, Kamrangirchar, Motijheel, Paltan, Shahbagh, Ramna and Jatrabari police.
We spoke with more than a dozen roadside vendors, shop owners and their employees and local residents around each of those spots. None of them could recall any incident of attack on police, vandalism and obstruction of police duty.
However, two vendors near Matsya Bhaban, which is close to the rally venue, said that they “heard about a chaos” in the area. But they do not know of any attack on police or vandalism.
According to the case filed with Motijheel police, 111 known and many unknown leaders and activists of the BNP and its front organisations hurled brickbats and blasted crude bombs targeting police with an intent to kill, vandalised buses and obstructed police from doing their job at Dainik Bangla intersection at 5:30pm on Sunday.
“I am hearing about any such incident for the first time since Sunday from you,” said Mofizul Islam, owner of a restaurant at the intersection.
At least 50 other people said they neither saw nor heard of any such incident.
The New Market police sued 150-200 leaders and workers of the BNP and its front organisations.
According to the case statement, they blocked traffic, attacked police with brick chips and obstructed them from doing their job at Bata Signal at 5:30pm on Sunday.
But Mahfuzur Rahman, a security guard of an ATM booth near Bata Signal, said he did not see any violence, procession or rally in the area since the student protests for road safety ended in August.
“Some policemen took position here on Sunday afternoon and detained several pedestrians,” said a roadside vendor, requesting anonymity.
In their case, the Paltan police said 62 identified and many unidentified leaders and workers of BNP-Jamaat and the 20-party alliance put up a barricade at Purana Paltan intersection and obstructed vehicular movement at 3:15pm on Sunday.
The accused hurled brickbats at police indiscriminately to kill them, it said.
More than 30 shop owners, street vendors and locals The Daily Star talked to expressed their surprise when they heard about the police case. None of them saw or heard about anything like that.
“I saw a large number of police on the road since morning that day. In the afternoon police detained several people. There was no clash,” said Abdul Kuddus, a hotelier at Purana Paltan intersection.
Mintu Majhi, a spectacle shop owner, also said he saw no incidents involving police and BNP men. “I only saw police picking up some people passing through the intersection in the afternoon.”
Similarly, locals in front of City College contradicted everything that police said in their case filed with Dhanmondi police.
According to the case statement, 22 named and 20-30 other unruly BNP supporters obstructed police from carrying out their duties and threw brick chips at them in front of the college at 4:45pm on Sunday.
This paper spoke with 15 people who have shops in the area or were present in front of the college at the time. None of them saw or heard anything of the sort.
The same is true about the case filed with Shahbagh police. The case statement claims 48 people, mostly BNP leaders and activists, attacked police with brick chips with an intent to kill in front of the High Court Mazar Gate at 5:30pm.
Duli Begum, who sells cigarettes near Mazar Gate and was at her shop at the time that day, said she did not see anything like that.
Eight other people in the area corroborated her version.
The police officers who filed the cases and the officers-in-charge of the staions said the cases were filed based on true incidents.
When The Daily Star shared its findings, they asked this correspondent to talk with their senior officers.
This paper called three deputy commissioners of Dhaka Metropolitan Police, but they declined to comment.