Aug 21 Attack Case: Babar was quick to ruin evidence; Testifies ex-top cop of Dhaka

By: Chaitanya Chandra Halder

A top metropolitan policeman in court yesterday accused former state minister for home Lutfozzaman Babar of destroying evidence of the August 21, 2004, grenade attack on an Awami League rally on Bangabandhu Avenue.

SM Mizanur Rahman, who had become the acting commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police just three hours prior to the attack, was giving his deposition before a Dhaka court yesterday.

Mizanur, now on leave preparatory to retirement (LPR), told the court, “On the very day of the grenade attack, Babar hurriedly directed army experts to destroy two live grenades that had been recovered from the place of occurrence, even though I had told him that the grenades were very essential evidence…”

Mizanur told the court Babar and several others were perhaps involved in the August 21 grenade attack.

The attack was aimed at assassinating Awami League President and now Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

She was leader of the opposition then. Even though Hasina narrowly escaped with her life, 24 Awami League leaders and workers were killed and 300 others were injured. Ivy Rahman, a top Awami League leader and wife of now President Zillur Rahman was one of the 24 slain in the attack.

Mizanur told the court yesterday, “The former state minister for home affair’s initiative [to destroy recovered grenades] proved that he tried to destroy evidence.”

Babar was sitting in the dock of the Speedy Trial Tribunal-1 when the 63rd prosecution witness testified. He mostly revealed Babar’s role before and after the attack.

Mizanur told the court that he had taken an initiative so that survivors of the attack could file cases against the criminals responsible for the attack but Babar prevented him from doing anything of that sort.

Babar rather directed police to file cases in connection with the attack.

In his two-hour-long testimony, Mizanur said Babar did not even take any initiative to deploy sufficient number of law enforcers for Sheikh Hasina’s security at the rally on that day.

Mizanur said he took over the charge of acting DMP commissioner on August 21, 2004, after then DMP commissioner Ashraful Huda went abroad three hours prior to the attack.

Around 5:40pm on August 21, 2004, Mizanur learnt about the attack on the Awami League rally and directed the then deputy commissioner (east) Obaidur Rahman to keep him informed with details of the incident.

He said Obaidur had told him that “bombs exploded” on an Awami League rally on Bangabandhu Avenue and at the same time, Babar called him over mobile phone and directed him to look into the incident.

“I directed DC Obaidur to look into the incident and take immediate measures to take the situation under control,” Mizanur added.

DC Obaidur told Mizanur that Awami League chief Sheikh Hasina was alright and that she had gone home safely.

Babar and the then inspector general of police Shahidul Haque again directed Mizanur over mobile phone to control the situation with an iron fist as agitators had begun vandalising and torching vehicles at different places in the capital, the witness said.

He said for a few weeks when he was discharging his duty as the acting DMP commissioner, he wanted to take action against some police officials, including deputy commissioner Obaidur, in connection with negligence in ensuring security at the rally.

“State minister for home Lutfozzaman Babar and the then IGP Shahidul Haque prevented me from doing this,” Mizanur told the court.

After the attack, Mizanur had requested Babar and the IGP to visit the spot as per official procedure but they said “do your duty properly”, the witness said.

“I handed over the charge to the then DMP commissioner Ashraful Huda on his return to the country from America. I had informed him about the incident when he was there. But he prevented me from making any comment about the incident,” Mizanur added.

A total 52 accused including Babar, the then IGP Shahidul Haque, the then DMP commissioner Ashraful Huda, the then DC Obaidur Rahman are facing trial in the two cases filed in connection with the August 21 grenade attack.

Mizanur will be cross-examined on August 12.

Source: The Daily Star

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