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Masterminds of the attack

Ten fugitives ‘totally untraced’

Published : 21 Aug 2021 09:39 PM | Updated : 22 Aug 2021 12:26 AM

The masterminds, including Tarique Rahman, Haris Chowdhury, Lutfozzaman Babar, Rezaqul Haider and others carried out one of the most grisly attacks of the history of Bangladesh on August 21 in 2004, a court verdict suggests.

A special court delivered the verdicts in the two cases filed over the grenade attack on an anti-terrorism rally of Awami League. The court found Tarique, Babar and 36 others guilty in the case filed under the Explosives Substance Act.

Many of those involved in the deadly attack have been absconding for years. But, the gruesome attack haunts the nation as 24 people were killed and around 300 were injured in the carnage.

Law enforcers are yet to trace 15 fugitive convicts in the case filed over the deadly grenade attack on an anti-terrorism rally of the then main opposition Bangladesh Awami League, even after 17 years of the carnage.

According to police sources, National Central Bureau (NCB), local wing of the International Criminal Police Organisation INTERPOL, which deals with the issue on behalf of the police headquarters, on August 5 this year sent a letter to the Criminal Investigation Department for its opinion whether red notices are need for the 10 ‘totally untraced’ fugitive convicts.

However, till filling of this report on August 21, the CID, which investigated the sensational case, did not reply to the NCB queries regarding the 10 absconders.

Sources in the Police Headquarters said that till date CID could not be certain whether the 10 fugitives are hiding in Bangladesh or abroad.  “Probably CID still suspects that 10 of the 16 fugitive accused are hiding in the country,” one source said.

Political observers blamed the law enforcers for their ultimate failure in arresting the 10 convicts, who are believed to be hiding inside the country.

Talking to the Bangladesh Post on August 21, Mohiul Islam, Assistant Inspector General (AIG) of Police Headquarters' National Central Bureau (NCB), said till date 16 convicts are absconding.

INTERPOL’s red notices are still active for four of them as the same for two convicts were deleted by the INTERPOL.

Responding to a question why INTERPOL red notices were not issued for the arrest of other 10 fugitive convicts, Mohiul said, NCB sent letters to the CID several times for their opinions whether such notices for the remaining 10 absconding are required.

On condition of anonymity, a senior police officer concerned told this correspondent that red notices are issued only for the arrest of fugitives who are hiding in abroad.

The officer said CID might have suspected that the 10 convicts are still hiding inside the country, or CID has no specific information about them.

NCB in Dhaka is the focal point for INTERPOL in Bangladesh.

AIG (NCB) Mohiul Islam said red notices would be issued subject to the CID’s request with all related documents necessary to issue such notices.

The 10 ‘totally untraced’ fugitives are retired Lt Col Saiful Islam Joardar, former DGFI director retired Maj Gen ATM Amin Ahmed, and militants Md Iqbal, Mohibul Muktakin, Anisul Morsalin, Mohammed Khalil, Maulana Liton alias Delwar Hossain alias Zobayer, Jahangir Alam Badar, Mufti Shafiqur Rahman and Mufti Abdul Hai.

Of the fugitives, BNP Senior Vice-Chairman Tarique Rahman is staying in the UK, and former BNP lawmaker Kazi Shah Mofazzal Hossain Kaikobad is either in the UK or in the US. 

About the other four, NCB chief Mohiul Islam said Mawlana Mohammad Tajuddin Mia is probably in Pakistan, Abul Haris Chowdhury in India or Malaysia, Ratul Ahmed Babu in Italy or South Africa and Mohammad Hanif in Thailand or Malaysia.

INTERPOL issues red notice for fugitives wanted either for prosecution or to serve a sentence. A red notice is a request to law enforcement worldwide to locate and provisionally arrest a person pending extradition, surrender, or similar legal action.