Issue is not arrest but facing open trial16 May 2014 Editorial Desk
The government is buying time in arresting the three former RAB officials for their alleged involvement in the much talked about seven murders in Narayanganj, raising questions about sincerity of the government in bringing them to book. Such delay is aggravating the crisis of faith in the government about facing RAB officials suspected to be involved in the crimes of kidnappings and killings in Narayanganj and elsewhere.The victims' family members, strongly suggest association of three members of RAB they named in the kidnapping and killing.The lawyers' community is most emphatically angry that one of their senior members was also brutally killed just because he was doing his professional duty of taking the other victims' case. It is also the allegation that the police refused to take FIR if it contains allegation against RAB.The three RAB members were forced to retire by the authorities in the armed forces for their suspected links to the abductions and killings. They did so quickly and rightly. They were anxious to safeguard the good image of the armed forces. It was the proper thing to do whether they were to be found guilty or not by a court of law. Now it is for the government to respond to public demand for open trial.A Division Bench of the High Court Division last Sunday ordered the government to "immediately" arrest them as suspects following allegation by family of Nazrul that RAB men committed the crime in exchange for Tk 6 crore from Nur Hossain and others. Their Lordships of the High Court Division so ordered on a writ petition and the idea is quite clear. By directing them to arrest under Section 54 of Cr.P.C. their Lordships assured the petitioners and the international community that nobody is above law and nobody is guilty without the judicial process. The arrest under Section 54 is only the beginning of rule of law and the judicial process. On Tuesday night, State Minister for Home Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal told a private TV channel that the trio would surrender before a court on Wednesday. Later he denied having said anything about their surrender.On the same day, news agency UNB quoted Kamal as saying, "As per the High Court order and due process, the agency concerned has been given necessary instructions and they'll be arrested by Wednesday." But they neither surrendered, nor were they arrested as of last night.Delaying arrest is no solution and trial will have to be held for the clearance of the ones who are innocent.The three former RAB-11 men are Lt Col Tareque Sayeed Mohammad, Maj Arif Hossain and Lt Commander SM Masud Rana. They have not opened their mouths to say whether they are guilty or innocent. It is possible that they are restrained by army discipline. But such silence and not allowing them to submit to the process of rule of law and open civil court trial are not helpful for the image of the armed forces. They were working for the RAB and not in a military operation, so it cannot be said that armed forces have any reason for shielding them. The army is people's army of a free country and we all are anxious to hold high its standing in the eye of law. If the government is advised to keep quiet and do nothing then the government will be seriously misunderstood. The public impression about the RAB members is that they are being used politically. Tareque, who was the commanding officer of RAB-11, is a son-in-law of Disaster Management and Relief Minister Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury Maya.Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury Maya has already changed his previous stance on the alleged involvement of his son-in-law in the crime, saying he wanted those responsible for the murders to be brought to justice. In another development, the seven-member probe body on Wednesday submitted a progress report to the Attorney General's office for placing it to the High Court on Thursday.Shahidul Islam created a sensation by alleging that RAB men killed Nazrul and six others after abduction on April 27 having taken Tk 6 crore from Siddhirganj Awami League leader Nur Hossain and some others. He said that a deep sense of insecurity and panic was prevailing as the accused have not yet been arrested."People do not dare to give deposition out of fear of prime suspect Nur Hossain and his associates," he said. Shahidul also threatened to wage movement if the three RAB officials are not arrested in a couple of days. "We still remain calm as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina assured us of proper investigation into the incident," he said. Only six people went to give deposition on the first day of the mass hearing on May 12.On May 10, the committee headed by Md Shahjahan Ali Mollah recorded statements of family members and relatives of the seven victims.Shahin Azad who gave deposition on the first day, alleged that Nur Hossain was behind the abduction and killing of the seven. Nur Hossain, who is loyal to local AL lawmaker Shamim Osman, might have taken the help of RAB, he said.So it will be a mistake for the government to ignore people's anxiety about their safety and security in the hands of those who are to save people's lives and property.All concerned must understand the seriousness of the crisis and be honest and patriotic in holding trial openly for clearing doubts and suspicions against many for the organised few criminals. The anger and fury of lawyers must not be so easily ignored. The challenge we are facing is the challenge of rule of law and respect for human rights.