Mujahid demanded release of HASINA, KHALEDA and NIJAMI

Jamaat-e-Islami Ameer Motiur Rahman Nizami was sent to jail yesterday after being produced before the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate’s (CMM) Court of Dhaka in connection with the Gatco graft case.

Nizami was arrested from his Moghbazar residence at about 11:15pm on Sunday following receipt of his the arrest warrant copy issued earlier on May 15 in the case.

Police produced Nizami before the court of Metropolitan Magistrate Mohammad Waliul Islam under tight security, at about 9:45am yesterday where his lawyers submitted three petitions.

The petitions included a bail petition, another for providing him with first class division and the other for granting him proper treatment in jail custody.

Before taking his seat, the magistrate Assistant Commissioner (prosecution) Mockbul Hossain asked on duty policemen to place the accused Nizami in the dock, otherwise the magistrate would not take his seat.

Nizami’s lawyers protested this saying there were instances where the accused was allowed to sit on a chair during the hearing of a case.

Later, Nizami was permitted to sit on a chair and the hearing proceeded.

Moving the petitions, Nizami’s lawyers informed the court that though the High Court (HC) had rejected their client’s bail petition earlier, they had already submitted a leave to appeal before the Supreme Court (SC) against the HC order. The appeal is scheduled to be heard on Tuesday, the lawyers told the court.

Therefore their client’s arrest by law enforcing agencies before the hearing is illegal and in violation of the higher court, the lawyers argued.

The prosecution argued against this by saying that a lower court would not be able to entertain this argument as the case against Nizami was filed under the Emergency Power Rules (EPR) where there is no provision for bail.

Nizami, defending himself, told the court that he had not been named in the First Information Report (FIR) of the case in but that his name was included in the charge sheet later to harass him politically.

He was on the purchase committee and was implicated in the case, he claimed.

After hearing both sides, the court ordered jail authorities to provide Nizami with division and treatment in jail custody.

After the court order, Nizami was sent to jail under tight security in a prison van.

A number of Nizami’s colleagues and supporters including Jamaat Secretary General Ali Ahsan Mohamaad Mujaheed, Delwar Hossain Saidee, Azaharul Islam and Kader Mollah were present at the time.

Additional police was deployed at the court during the period.

Jamaat Secretary General Mujaheed later told reporters present on the court premises that implicating Nizami in the case was nothing but a political harassment. He said this arrest would only work against holding of free and fair polls.

Meanwhile Nizami’s wife Begum Shamsunnahar and his children have visited him in jail custody yesterday.

Earlier on Sunday, BNP reformist leader former LGRD minister Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan and former minister M Shamsul Islam appeared before the Metropolitan Sessions Judge’s Court but the court rejected their bail petitions and sent them to jail.

The same court on May 15 issued arrest warrants against 12 ‘absconding’ accused including former finance minister M Saifur Rahman, Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan, M Shamsul Islam, MK Anwar, Nizami and Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury.

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) on May pressed charges against detained former premier Khaleda Zia, her son Arafat Rahman Koko and 22 others in the Gatco scam case.

The ACC filed the case against Khaleda, Koko and 11 others with Tejgaon police on September 2 last year, for graft in awarding Gatco container handling work at depots in Dhaka and Chittagong.

The investigation officer (IO) prayed for issuance of arrest warrants against Saifur, Mannan, Nizami, Amir Khasru, MK Anwar, M Shamsul Islam and six others, as they have been absconding since the charge sheet in the case was submitted.

Meanwhile two murder cases against Nizami, filed for killing freedom fighters and general public during the Liberation War in 1971 with Keraniganj and Pallabi police are currently under investigation.

On December 17 last year, Mozaffar Ahmad Khan, Dhaka district Muktijudda unit commander, filed a case against Nizami, Jamaat-e-Islami Secretary General Mujaheed and seven others for killing his nephew and one of his comrades on November 25, 1971.

After the hearing, Judicial Magistrate Ashiqul Khabir recorded the statement of complainant and directed the officer-in-charge (OC) of Keraniganj Police Station to register the double murder as a first information report (FIR).

He also asked the OC to take action against the accused after an investigation into the complaint.

Following the court order, Keraniganj police recorded it as regular case and OC is now investigating it.

Another freedom fighter (FF) on January 24 this year filed a murder case against Nizami, Mujaheed, five of their party men and three non-Bangalees for the massacre of 345 people during the Liberation War.

Mohammad Amir Hossain Mollah, a wounded FF and resident of Pallabi’s Duaripara, filed the case with the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court, Dhaka.

The complainant stated that the Jamaat men killed them in city’s Mirpur area. The victims included 21 of his relatives, one colleague, 43 Mirpur residents and 280 others from different areas of the country on April 24 and December 18 in 1971, he said.

After the hearing, the court directed the OC of Pallabi police to record the case as a regular one and to submit a probe report. Following the court order, Pallabi OC recorded the case and another sub-inspector is investigating it at present.

The others accused in this case are assistant secretary generals of Jamaat Mohammad Abdul Quader Molla and Muhammad Kamaruzzaman, Jamaat central leader and former Islami Chhatra Sangha president Sardar Abdul Salam and activist Khawza Ashim (now deceased), and Akhter ‘Gunda’, Newaz and Doma (non-Bangalees who later fled to Pakistan).

Jamaat-e-Islami leaders specially Secretary general Ali Ahshan Muhammad Mujahid demanded release of all detained top political leaders, including former premiers Khaleda Zia and Sheikh Hasina, and party Ameer Nizami.They also criticised the government for Nizami’s arrest.

Jamaat leaders, at an emergency meeting of the party’s central executive committee, said the environment to hold dialogue with political parties and the next elections has vitiated after arrest of top political leaders.

Senior Nayeb-e-Ameer of Jamaat Abul Kalam Mohammad Yousuf has already been made acting ameer of the party after Nizami’s name came into the Gatco graft case. Party Nayeb-e-Ameer AKM Nazir Ahmed chaired the meeting yesterday however since Yousuf is currently abroad.

Jamaat leaders at the meeting also discussed the party’s next courses of action. They might declare different political initiatives to protest Nizami’s arrest, party insiders said.

Meanwhile, Matiur Rahman Nizami’s post as ameer of Jamaat-e-Islami could become vacant if he remains absent for six months.

However a senior party leader told The Daily Star that they are not worried about this at present.