Even dead not spared
They must be turning in their graves.
Jahangir Hossain died one and a half years ago, Mansur Ali a year ago and Zilllur Rahman six months back.
Now all these months and years later, police have charged them with vandalising vehicles and planning subversive activities.
The cases, mostly against BNP leaders and activists, were filed with the capital's Kadamtoli and Genderia police stations in recent weeks.
The Daily Star has the death certificates of all the three, visited the grave of one and spoke with relatives and neighbours who were in their funerals.
Mansur and Zillur were local BNP leaders, while Jahangir had no direct political link.
Apart from these three, at least five other people, who died long ago as reported in the media, have been made accused in cases filed over the last few months -- one each in the capital's Chwakbazar, Jessore, Keraniganj and two in Habiganj.
The Daily Star could not independently confirm those, but aware of such “ghostly” cases, the police authorities recently ordered the unit chiefs to scrutinise how such cases were being filed in different parts of the country.
Mainly BNP leaders of all levels -- central, district, upazila, thana -- are accused in these cases.
Contacted by phone on Thursday, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said he instructed the inspector general of police to find out why cases were being filed against dead men.
“I have spoken with the IGP even today [Thursday] and asked him to find out who did this,” he said. “It will be verified. How can a dead man be an accused in a case?”
Apart from the dead, many people who have been implicated in similar cases filed over alleged incidents that took place when they were outside the country or at their workplace. Some are hajj pilgrims, others are paralysed and bound to their beds.
Such loopholes are “unprecedented,” a number of top police officials said.
They said the cases are full of such “mistakes and loopholes” as field level police are filing those against leaders, activists and supporters of the BNP and its front organisations on instructions of the police high-ups.
The cases are being filed following the lists of the central, city, thana and ward unit committees of the BNP. Local units of the ruling Awami League are helping police by providing names, the officials added on condition of anonymity.
As the cases have been filed quickly ahead of BNP's founding anniversary (September 1) and any big programmes or rallies, police did not get enough time to verify whether anyone in the committees are dead, according to the police officials.
In some instances, the alleged incidents did not happen at the time or place mentioned in the case statement.
For example, police in the capital filed 38 cases against several thousand leaders and activists of BNP and its front organisations within 12 hours of the BNP rally on September 30 at Suhrawardy Udyan. At the rally, top BNP leaders instructed party activists to prepare simultaneously for movement and the national election.
The Daily Star 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 as claimed in the case statements.
Several officials of Dhaka Metropolitan Police said there were instructions from the high-ups to file multiple cases against each BNP leaders and workers.
“If all BNP leaders and active workers are accused in cases, we will be able to arrest them even after announcement of the election schedule. The Election Commission will have nothing to say if an accused in a criminal case is arrested,” said an official, asking not to be named.
In BNP's estimation, 4,135 cases have been filed against 85,604 identified and 274,703 unidentified party leaders and activists from September 1 to October 4 across the country. During the same period, police arrested 4,650 BNP men in those cases.
The BNP claims all of these cases are aimed at keeping the party men on the run so they cannot take part in polls activities.
Fearing arrests, many are coming to the High Court seeking anticipatory bail.
Since October 1, around 1,000 people who were made accused in such cases have been granted bails, said the deputy attorney generals of two High Court benches concerned.
NO ESCAPE FOR THE DEAD
Zillur Rahman, son of Abdur Rahman from Jurain, died on March 26. He was 38.
Doctors at Dhaka Medical College Hospital declared him dead after he was taken there with heart problems, according to his death certificate.
He was buried at Azimpur Graveyard the same day and the receipt of the graveyard bears the serial number of 10342.
However, in the two cases filed with the city's Kadamtoli Police Station on September 11 and 12, Zillur has been charged with vandalising vehicles in two places with iron rods and sticks and throwing brick chips at police. He is listed as accused number 3 and 5 respectively in the cases.
According to the case filed by Sub-inspector Ershad Alam, the dead man was among 108 other accused who vandalised Narayanganj- and Chattogram-bound trucks, buses, CNG-run auto-rickshaws and human hauliers, on the road in front of Shyampur Lal Masjid at Kadamtoli at 2:10pm on September 11.
In the other case filed the next day, SI Alam Badsha found Zillur among 109 accused vandalising trucks, buses and CNG auto-rickshaws moving on Dhaka-Mawa highway in front of Sangit Cinema Hall at Dholaipar at 3:00pm on September 12.
In both the cases, police named him as only Zillur and his father as only Rahman. His address, however, was rightly mentioned.
Zillur was the joint secretary of ward 53 unit of BNP. He lived in Malaysia and South Korea for around 10 years since 1995, said his father.
“We are not getting respite from police even after Zillur's death,” Abdur Rahman told The Daily Star on Tuesday.
Days after filing the cases, a sub-inspector in civil dress went twice in search of his son at an engineering workshop near their home that Zillur ran. He also owned a cosmetic shop in Chawkbazar.
Abdur Rahman said as police used to hunt for his son, he asked Zillur to leave his own area. So around six years ago, Zillur rented a house in Azimpur where he lived with his wife and five-year-old son.
Zillur's elder brother Mizanur Rahman said they told the police official about his death, but he initially did not trust them. But later police asked them to submit his death certificate to the police station.
Jahangir Alam, son of late Rowshan Ali Molla in Gendaria, died on July 1 last year at the age of 65 due to cardio respiratory failure, according his death certificate issued by Asgar Ali Hospital in the locality.
Complainant Syed Abdul Mannan, SI at Gendaria Police Station, in the case filed on October 3 mentioned his name as Jahangir Hossain though the address and the father's name match with his.
The case statement says Jahangir was among 77 named and many unnamed BNP-Jamaat leaders and activists who gathered in front of Jahangirnagar Hospital in Gendaria at 5:15pm that day, blocking a road as part of a sabotage plan. He was mentioned as accused number 41.
Family members and locals said Jahangir, a cloth trader in Sadarghat area, was never actively involved in politics.
Abdul Jalil, officer-in-charge of Kadamtoli Police Station, said he was not aware if any dead man was implicated in the case, but would look into it.
Gendaria Police Station OC Kazi Mizanur Rahman also promised to do the same, saying it was not supposed to happen.
'TAKE AWAY HIS BODY'
Mansur, a former BNP ward 52 unit president, died on October 27 last year at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University due to heart failure. He was 62.
A teacher at Muradpur High School and widely known as Mansur Ali Master, he was charged with vandalising trucks, buses, CNG auto-rickshaws and Leguna in front of Eagle Box at Ali Bahar in Kadamtoli on Dhaka-Narayanganj highway on September 5.
Akhter Hossain, a sub-inspector at Kadamtoli Police Station, lodged the case on September 6, where 195 others are also charged.
“We told the police that he has died, but police did not believe us until we provided them with his death certificate,” said his wife Shahanur Akhter.
Even then an SI with other policemen is harassing her son Mohammad Murad, asking if he is involved with the BNP politics, she alleged.
Murad claimed he was never into politics.
Angered by what is happening centring on her late husband, Shahanur has made a decision.
“If police come again, I will take them to Jurain Graveyard where my husband lies buried. I will tell them: Take away his body,” she said.