Sunday, October 17, 2004

Bangladesh: Answers to stupid question - ask "Emperor" Babar

The probe into the grenade recovery seems a failure like the one to track down the culprits behind the August 21 incident with government officials saying they found no clue to stealing the grenade into the jail so far. Intelligence and police sources however said different agencies gave some 'alarming information' while probing the incident but the government does not want to reveal them. "At this moment, I will not say whether we found anything or not," State Minister for Home Lutfozzaman Babar told The Daily Star yesterday.
Asked whether the government is continuing the probe to unearth the mystery behind the incident, Babar said, "Definitely. We are investigating the matter separately alongside the probe into the August 21 grenade attack." Asked about many of the law enforcers' hunches that the August 21 and August 22 incidents have links, Babar said, "We're checking it too."

Dhaka Central Jail: No probe 54 days into grenade recovery
Julfikar Ali Manik

The government appears to be trying to bury the August 22 grenade recovery from Dhaka Central Jail that sent a chill across the nation already panicked by the killing of 20 people in a grisly grenade attack on an Awami League rally on the previous day.

Although top government officials claim that investigation is on to find out the source and people behind despatch of the grenade into the jail, the probe failed to make any headway even in 54 days into the recovery.

A sweeper at the jail found the grenade, same as those found at the AL rally, lying beside a sewer channel between Cell No. 26 and Cell No. 90.

The probe into the grenade recovery seems a failure like the one to track down the culprits behind the August 21 incident with government officials saying they found no clue to stealing the grenade into the jail so far.

Intelligence and police sources however said different agencies gave some 'alarming information' while probing the incident but the government does not want to reveal them.

"At this moment, I will not say whether we found anything or not," State Minister for Home Lutfozzaman Babar told The Daily Star yesterday.

Asked whether the government is continuing the probe to unearth the mystery behind the incident, Babar said, "Definitely. We are investigating the matter separately alongside the probe into the August 21 grenade attack."

Some investigators say a successful probe into the grenade recovery inside the jail might help the law enforcers to track down the attackers on the AL rally.

Government indifference to point finger at people who took the grenade inside the jail shows how sensitive the 'findings' are, a senior police official said on condition of anonymity. "The culprits seem to be very powerful."

Since the grenade recovery, recently transferred Inspector General (Prisons) Brigadier General Zillur Rahman told the media it might have been thrown from outside over the boundary wall of the jail and that there was little chance of taking it in through the entrance of the jail.

"A probe team led by a deputy inspector general could not reach any conclusion but it believed the grenade was thrown from outside and the jail staffs had nothing to do with it," he told The Daily Star on Wednesday.

Zillur however said, "We don't rule out other possibilities."

Asked why some jail staffs were punished for neglect of duties following recovery of the grenade, he said, "They were punished on many charges, not only neglect of duty." He however declined to give details.

Eight jail staff, including the deputy jailer of the country's largest jail, were suspended within 48 hours of the grenade recovery and several others were suspended later.

But some sources in the jail and police said they have reasons to believe the grenade was taken through the entrance of the jail.

It was too difficult to throw the grenade 25 feet inside the jail compound over the 17-foot high boundary wall and another eight-foot high wall, some sources said. Circumstantial evidence suggested the grenade was taken through the jail entrance, the pointed out.

"Although the authorities claim of tight security including use of metal detector at the jail, carrying contraband items or explosives in is nothing difficult," an official source said, mentioning that two truckloads of contraband items including drugs were recovered in a search after the grenade recovery.

Although prohibited, giving food to prisoners from outside is a regular phenomenon, said the source. "One can easily take a 350-400gm explosive device in rice boxes as food items are not always checked strictly."

"We've failed to reach any conclusion but we are convinced the grenade was taken in to execute a conspiracy, and some prisoners may have been involved in it. The suspects include some prisoners in the Bangabandhu Murder case and Jail Killing case, the source said seeking anonymity.

"We are also checking whether the absconding accused in the cases, who are believed to be living abroad but visit Bangladesh secretly, are involved in the conspiracy," he said.

Asked about many of the law enforcers' hunches that the August 21 and August 22 incidents have links, Babar said, "We're checking it too."

Officer-in-Charge of Lalbagh Police Station Ghulam Mustafa said, "Two of our sub-inspectors are probing the grenade recovery incident in the jail and will continue it till the mystery is unearthed."

A top police official said, "A joint team of experts from army, Rapid Action Battalion, police and five intelligence agencies should search every inch of the jail to find out whether there are more grenades or other arms and explosives there."

Babar said a thorough search was conducted in the jail immediately after the grenade recovery.

Daily Star 17/10/2004