No BNP men to be spared from being implicated?
A new phenomenon has arisen in Bangladesh in recent times, being popularly called ‘gayebi maamla’ or fictitious cases – lawsuits that are filed on the basis of imagined incidents.
Leaders and activists of the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) – from the party’s city units to union parishad units or from ward committees to the central committee and especially those who are prospective polling agents in the next elections – are being implicated in the cases.
The accused, records of the cases so far show, include deceased persons, leaders staying abroad, some jail inmates and bed-ridden patients
This is being done as part of a government plan to frame cases against every single BNP leader, even activist, sources in the law enforcement admitted.
A number of police sources in Dhaka and other places have said there are orders to book the BNP leaders and activists, especially persons who might campaign for the opposition in the upcoming parliamentary polls.
These are non-bailable cases and the procedures, going from the lower courts to higher courts, may require around three months.
By this time, the protagonists of the plan think, the polls will be done and they will not be able to play any part in the opponents’ election campaigns.
Around 360,000 people, including people unnamed have been charged while over 4,600 leaders and activists have been detained or jailed, according to the BNP.
The opposition party has alleged that as many as 4,135 cases were filed against its leaders and activists between 1 September and 4 October.
A number of police officers seeking anonymity told Prothom Alo that they had to act because the police headquarters had asked them to frame BNP men.
As a result, people who are dead, who were performing Hajj at the time, people who live abroad, and even bed-ridden people, have been charged, although the media reports about such cases have embarrassed the law enforcement.
Separate plans have been chalked out for every single district and two deputy inspectors general (DIGs) have been tasked to oversee the whole process. They summon the superintendents of police (SP) and pass on the instructions, the sources said.
When asked, deputy inspector general (media and planning) Ruhul Amin, who is the spokesman of the police HQ, said, “This is not true. Meeting the SPs is normal before the election, to plan ways to avert untoward situation.”
A number of sources said the police stations had been sent lists of BNP committees and policemen were asked to verify their addresses, take pictures of people joining BNP programmes so that cases can later be filed against them.
Prothom Alo investigation found that the police started filing these fictitious cases on 1 September. These cases charged BNP men of different strata, from the secretary general to the activists at the grassroots. The complaints have a set pattern, claiming these people got together to plan acts of sabotage or threw brickbats or hurled crude bombs at policemen.
When asked about the number of cases filed in the country last month, a senior official of the police HQ said it will take some time to know the exact number.
Prothom Alo correspondents of 15 districts say as many as 121 cases have been filed in those districts in the last one month while 378 have been arrested.
To this end, National Human Rights Commission chairman Kazi Reazul Hoque said, “Arresting or filing a case against someone without a specific reason is unlawful. We hope nobody will be harassed this way.”
BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir alleged that the motive of these cases is to either keep BNP candidates away from the polls or to keep its leaders and activists behind the bars to hurt the opposition’s election campaigns.
BNP leader Mirza Abbas said, “It’s an anarchy. Police have programmed everything on the computer and just change names as per their wish.”
Awami League presidium member and 14-party spokesman Mohammad Nasim claimed the law enforcement did not do anything without valid grounds. “The BNP always complains too much. They have a hidden political agenda,” he said.
“The police have ceased to be one of the state, rather they are now at the behest of the government. The policemen are losing their credibility. The way things are shaping up, we see more legitimacy for deployment of army in the national polls,” said Supreme Court lawyer Shahdeen Malik.