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Success of the judgement is to be seen in the behaviour of law enforcing agencies

By Editorial Desk
19th-Jan-2017       
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Nazrul Islam, a panel mayor of Narayanganj City Corporation who was in good terms with Mayor Ivy Rahman, with three associates and his driver went missing from Fatullah area of Narayanganj on April 27 of 2014. His lawyer Chandan Kumar Sarker who was following the car of Nazrul Islam, also went missing on the same day with his driver from the same place. Within one week of the event, the dead bodies of the victims were seen floating on the Shitalakshya River on which the Narayanganj District stands on. Two cases were filed in connection with the murders. Nazrul's wife Selina Islam Beauty filed a case against six people, including former councillor Nur Hossain, while Chandan's son-in-law Bijoy Kumar Paul filed the other case against Nazmul Haque partner of an engineering firm and some unknown people. Nazrul's father-in-law Shahidul Islam alleged that (RAB) personnel abducted and killed Nazrul in exchange for Tk 6 crore from local ward councillor Nur Hossain.

Several probe committees were formed by the government, Police and RAB. CID was given the charge to investigate the case as per the directive of the High Court while the government assigned Detective Branch of Police with the task. On November 12 of 2014, the Supreme Court after hearing a petition of attorney general exempted CID from the investigation. More than a year later, on June 4 of 2015, the High Court directed RAB, the government's seven-member probe committee, the inspector general of police and the CID to submit progress reports on their investigations. RAB found 21 of its members including three top officials of RAB-11 unit involved in the incident. The RAB personnel are: Hamidul Haque, Hira Miah, Belal Hossain, Abu Tayab, and Arif Hossain, all of whom are the members of RAB 11.

The three top officials of RAB 11 unit Lt Colonel Tareque Sayeed, Lt Commander Masud Rana and Major Arif Hossain made confessions of their involvement in the case. All the three top officials of RAB, including Tareque Sayeed, who is the son-in-law of Food and Relief Minister Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury were sent to forced retirement by the military forces of the country. Nur Hossain, the prime accused in the case who fled to India after the murders took place, was arrested in Kolkata on June 14, 2015. And the other one (Nazmul Haque) is missing after November 2014 in the same place in India. In November 12, 2015, Indian government handed over Nur Hossain to Bangladesh.

After  over a year of investigation, the Detective Branch of Police pressed a charge sheet against 35 people on April 8, 2015. On February 8, after a number of hearings, the Narayanganj court indicted all the 35 names of the charge sheet for the seven murder incident. The formal trial of the case in Narayanganj began on February 2016. On January 16, 2017, the court awarded death penalty to 26 people including former Awami League leader Nur Hossain and 16 ex-RAB officials including Tareque Sayeed, Arif Hossain, and Masud Rana in the seven-murder case. Nine other associates of Nur Hossain and ex-RAB members were also sentenced to different terms in the verdict. The judge on his verdict, said that the charges of abduction, murder, concealing the bodies, conspiracy and destroying evidences were proved beyond any doubt.

This prompted Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha to say on January 17th  that no offenders, however big they may be, would get impunity. He said that while the murders have stunned the nation the offenders were put on trial due to the timely interference of the Supreme Court and this act increased the faith of the people in the judiciary. CJ Sinha said the media have been playing an important role in the judiciary's development and implementation of its reforming activities by publishing and broadcasting timely reports. The Chief Justice congratulated the press, journalists, the print and electronic media on behalf of the judiciary.

While peoples faith in the judiciary may have been restored it took a thorough involvement by both the press and the judiciary to ensure that justice would ultimately occur. The fact remains that the incident should never have occurred in the first place. RAB was created to combat crimes and it was allowed to go unchecked for many years as criminals were mysteriously killed in crossfires. This created a culture of impunity and a moral and judicial vacuum which allowed some of its members to think that they could get away with anything. But it should never have occurred in the first place as its members were supposed to come from the most disciplined forces of the country--the army and navy, among others.

The success of the judgement is to be seen how much strict the law enforcement agencies have become in enforcing law. The example of some RAB members must be held as horrifying and they have to do their utmost to improve their image. It is also not right to say that punishing the few for terrible crimes is enough for improving the justice system in protecting the innocent ones.

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