Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Pilkhana investigation: wrong officer?


Following brutal murder of Army Officers inside Bangladesh Riffles [BDR] Headquarters during February 25 and 26, a case was lodged with Lalbagh Police Station by officer-in-charge Nabojyoti Khisha. Main accused in the case is one of the kingpins of the brutality, Towhidul Alam, former deputy assistant director of BDR.

It was naturally expected that after such tragic brutality in the history of Bangladesh, the ruling government might have shown minimum sincerity in at least investigating the case through neutral hands, so that perpetrators, belonging to any quarter, would be identified for trial. Abdul Kahhar Akhand, Assistant Superintendent of Police [ASP], who only couple of back got his job back, after Awami League government, came in power. Another officer who has been made the ´comrade´ of Kahhar Akhand is ASP Bazlur Rahman. Both are with Criminal Investigation Department [CID].

It is learnt from a number of dependable sources that, Abdul Kahhar Akhand and Bazlur Rahman are Awami League loyalists and extreme critic of Bangladesh Army. "They are amongst the very few police officers, who were always using abusive words about Bangladesh Army, especially while referring to 2-year interim government role", said the source.Although an ASP in designation, Kahhar Akhand keeps direct contact with the Prime Minister and Home Minister. As soon as he joined CID after getting back job, government became busy in arranging a new luxurious jeep for him along with all other facilities to let others in CID realize that, he [Kahhar] belongs to Awami League.

It may be mentioned here that, during 1996-2001, Awami League government could not find a more trusted man than Kahhar Akhand to entrust with the investigation of Bangabandhu murder case and jail killing case. Trial into the jail killing case was completed in 282 working days. Three junior officers were given death sentence for the crime while 11 of the 12 absconding accused officers were given life sentence. It is significant that all the 11 have already been sentenced to death for killing Mujibur Rahman and his family.

While pronouncing the verdict, Justice Motiur Rahman, blamed the Investigating Officer [Abdul Kahhar Akhand] for faulty investigation and said all the killers of the four national leaders could not be awarded capital punishment due to IO´s negligence.The original charge sheet could not be traced. Jail officers and security personnel who were on duty during the killings were not charge-sheeted. Due to the inordinate delay another key witness and second investigation officer Saifuddin Ahmed suffered from paralysis and could not depose before the court.

Commenting on Abdul Kahhar Akhand´s role as the investigation officer, Dhaka´s influential newspaper The Daily Star said, "Investigation officer [IO] Abdul Kahar Akhand blackened the profession of the police by committing crucial and dangerous flaws in the investigation. All killers in the case could not be tried due to his farcical investigation into the incident.The IO did not conduct any investigation into the role of a couple of accomplices of Muslemuddin [who led the killing squad], the judge said.He said the identity of all the killers could be learnt and the court might have awarded them the highest punishment had the IO conducted a proper investigation.

Akhand did not present any such evidence to the court that would have revealed and proved the identities of the nine killers.According to the statement of a jail guard, who saw nine army personnel entering the prison, the jail authorities had indirectly taken part in the killings by assisting the nine who killed the four leaders.But the IO did not investigate into this matter. According to the jail guard, security personnel stood inactive as the brutal murder and macabre took place.

The judgment said the IO failed to produce the real killers on the dock and did not investigate into the role of those whom he produced.He did not bring to book the people who opened the jail gate for the killers and helped in gathering the four leaders in a cell and killing them."Now, again, the very controversial and questioned police officer like Abdul Kahhar Akhand, who had already been questioned of his efficiency and expertise by the higher judiciary of Bangladesh, has been appointed as the Investigation Officer [IO] of the very sensitive and important BDR Massacre case.

From the first hour of being appointed as the investigation officer of BDR Massacre Case, both Abdul Kahhar Akhand and Bazlur Rahman are constantly contacting the Home Minister and other leaders of Awami League, for their guidance on the investigation. It may be further mentioned here that, Akhand is awaiting another promotion in weeks, so the new case has become an important tool for him in constantly contacting various high ups in the government and pursue his promotion instead of investigation.

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