All women and girls of all ages including handicapped and elderly women of three Hindu villages in Lalmohan upazila of Bhola were raped immediately after October 1, 2001 parliamentary election.
There had been over 17,000 incidents of murder, rape, gang rape, arson and loot across the country until late 2006 against the Hindus and Awami League supporters by the BNP-Jamaat men.
The Awami League-led government received the judicial commission report in April 2011 but has not taken a single step in this concern!
On Thursday, the High Court directed the government to take legal action against the instigators and attackers immediately, and report back on May 11.
Eager to see what’s next… However, I’m not hopeful.
The bench of Justice Quazi Reza-Ul Hoque and ABM Altaf Hossain passed the order yesterday after Deputy Attorney General Biswojit Roy placed the gazette notification of the judicial investigation report.
The commission in its probe report held a number of ministers of the then ruling BNP-Jamaat government responsible for instigating the incidents. The leaders include BNP’s Salauddin Quader Chowdhury (convicted for war crimes), Altaf Hossain Chowdhury, Maj (retd) Hafizuddin Ahmed, Tariqul Islam, Zainal Abedin (VP Zainal), Ruhul Quddus Talukder Dulu, Abdul Hafiz, AMH Selim (Silver Selim), Selim Reza Habib, and Jamaat-e-Islami’s Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujaheed (convicted for war crimes).
The gazette was published in April following the directives of the bench. “It is historic as no other probe report was made public earlier through gazette notification,” Biswojit told the Dhaka Tribune.
In response to a question by the court during the hearing, the deputy attorney general said no effective measure could be taken against the perpetrators after the violence. “As the probe report has turned into a gazette, which has legal value, actions will now be taken against the perpetrators,” he said.
The report was prepared by a three-member commission headed by former district judge M Shahabuddin Chuppu, now a commissioner of the Anti-Corruption Commission. The probe body was formed on December 27, 2009 and it submitted the report to the Home Ministry on April 24, 2011.
According to the report, as many as 3,625 incidents of violence took place across the country between October 1, 2001 and December 31, 2002. During that time, 355 political murders occurred while the other 3,270 incidents are related to rape, gang rape, arson, looting and other serious crimes.
But only 221 cases were lodged, in which police submitted final report in 27 cases but discharged the accused. The law enforcers pressed charge sheets in rest of the cases, says the report.
The commission suggested that as there is no timeframe for filing of cases for crimes, the authorities can lodge cases against the perpetrators now.
If an accused is acquitted, appeals should be lodged against them, while if anyone is discharged, then revision cases should be filed, says the report.
The commission also said between 2003 and 2006, more than 14,000 incidents of violence including political murders took place.
Deputy Attorney General Biswojit said the report did not cover all the horrific incidents of violence as many people did not appear before the commission fearing further attacks.
Barisal was the worst-affected division where a total of 2,189 incidents of serious crimes including rape, gang rape, arson and loot were committed just after the election.
Almost all the women, from child to age-old, of three Hindu villages in Lalmohan Upazila of Bhola were raped. Even a physically-handicapped woman, whose two legs were cut, and another 70-year-old woman were not spared.
As many as 38 political murders took place during the same period. But only 39 cases were registered on the incidents and the accused of four cases were discharged, says the report.
Death row war criminal Salauddin Quader’s men killed 12 persons at a house in Chittagong by setting fire. In the division, 97 political murders and 360 incidents of gang rape, arson, loot and other serious crimes took place. On the incidents, only 49 cases were lodged while the accused in eight cases were discharged.
Priya Saha, general secretary of Bangladesh Women Unity Council, told the Dhaka Tribune that war criminal Sayedee’s men had forcefully taken the possession of land more than 200 acres owned by her father and other relatives in Pirojpur. She did not file any complaint or give statement before the commission out of fear.