Cases Over Bus Torching: He was in hospital, still made accused

The Daily Star  November 19, 2020

Claims Jubo Dal leader; a heart surgery patient among accused

When buses were being torched in Dhaka on November 12 afternoon, Zakir Hossain Siddiqui, a vice-president of Jubo Dal, was undergoing treatment for a blood disease at LabAid Hospital.

The 50-year-old was in cabin-430 between November 10 and November 15, and had paid Tk 88,163 in medical care charges.

The Daily Star obtained documents in support of this claim.

However, according to a case filed by Paltan police, Zakir torched a bus on November 12 and he is accused No-3 in the case.

Zakir yesterday appeared before a High Court bench along with 119 other BNP leaders and activists, including Gayeshwar Chandra Roy, to seek anticipatory bail in cases filed over the arson attacks on buses.

While talking to The Daily Star, Zakir alleged that four fingers of his right hand were broken after police attacked him and other BNP and pro-BNP activists during a BNP workers’ conference in Nabinagar of Brahmanbaria on October 23.

He said he had been getting treatment from LabAid since then but he had to get admitted on November 10 as his condition deteriorated due to blood-related problems.

“I was astonished to see my name in the bus-torching case. How could I torch a bus when I am so sick and having treatment in a hospital,” Zakir, a resident of city’s Malibagh area, said over phone.

Asked about Zakir’s claim of being in hospital during the incident, SI Shaheen Mia of Paltan Police Station, who filed one of the 16 cases, said he will not talk about the matter then.

Zakir is not the only one though.

Nazmul Alam Nazu, Rangpur district Jubo Dal president and joint general secretary of Jubo Dal central committee, claimed that he was also falsely accused.

He said he had a bypass surgery at a hospital in Dhaka on October 13 and had been on bed rest, as prescribed by doctors.

“I am on three months’ complete bed rest as per doctor’s suggestion after the surgery. Yet, I have been made an accused in a bus torching case filed with Motijheel police,” he said over the phone.

Nazmul said he left Dhaka for Rangpur on November 14 in an ambulance and could not return to Dhaka to seek bail.

He has been accused in two cases.

Following the arson attacks on nine buses on November 12, 16 cases were filed against more than 500 identified leaders and activists of BNP, its affiliate bodies, and unidentified others.

Police claimed that the buses were torched by the accused at the directive of their central leaders with an aim to foil the Dhaka-18 by-polls held that day.

The charges include attempted murder by torching buses, sabotage attempt, exploding bombs, and possessing explosives.

ARSONISTS STILL AT LARGE

Police are yet to arrest anyone directly involved in the torching of buses.

They have, however, arrested around 50 people, mostly BNP and its front organisations’ leaders and activists.

The arrestees were quizzed on remand but police could not glean any information about the real arsonists, sources said.

A CCTV video clip found after an arson attack showed two young men throwing something inside a parked bus at Paltan causing a fire inside the vehicle in the blink of an eye.

The duo fled the scene quickly.

Paltan police and different other intelligence agencies have been scrutinising the video to identify them.

“We have been trying to identify the arsonists from the footage, but are yet to succeed,” Abu Bakar Siddique, officer-in-charge (OC) of Paltan Police Station said yesterday.

A top official of Dhaka Metropolitan Police, however, said they have already identified the two in the video and drives were on to arrest them.

OC Abu Bakar said they arrested 11 people in the case filed with his police station and have quizzed some of them on remand. They were yet to get any information on the arsonists, he said, adding that they were hopeful getting information soon.

This newspaper also talked to the OCs of city’s Uttara Purba, Airport, Bangshal, and Bhatara police stations. They too said they were yet to arrest anyone who was directly involved in setting the buses on fire.

Bangshal OC Shaheen Fakir on Tuesday said they arrested 16 people in a case filed over an arson attack on a bus. Some of the accused had been interrogated on remand, he added.

“We have gleaned some information but cannot disclose those as the investigation is going on,” he said.

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