A judicial probe committee has found that the six students, killed in a mob beating in Aminbazar in July this year, were innocent and not robbers, while police on duty at the spot were negligent in saving their lives, according to sources familiar with the investigation.
The committee, formed by a High Court directive, submitted a 200-page sealed report to the Supreme Court registrar yesterday for placing it to the HC bench concerned, but the sources The Daily Star talked to have knowledge of the main finding.
Advocate Tajul Islam, whose writ petition sparked the investigation, said he was informed by knowledgeable sources that the probe also found involvement of a few policemen in the killing.
The six students were beaten to death by several hundred villagers at Keblar Char in Aminbazar near the capital on July 18 when they went there to enjoy the night of holy Shab-e Barat.
The slain students were Tipu Sultan of Tejgaon College; Towhidur Rahman Palash, Kamruzzaman Kanto and Ibrahim Khalil of Mirpur Bangla College; Shams Rahim Shamam of Maple Leaf International School; and Sitaf Jabi Munif of Bangladesh University of Business and Technology.
The sources said the probe report states that the villagers beat the students to death on suspicion that they were robbers, and police on duty there did not try to stop the villagers.
Tajul said the report also found that Al Amin, the only living victim of the beating, had pleaded with police to allow him to talk to his parents over the cellphone, but police did not allow him, instead they treated the already severely wounded young man roughly.
Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (CMM) of Dhaka AKM Enamul Haque and Metropolitan Magistrate Utpal Chowdhury submitted the report to SC Registrar AKM Shamsul Haque yesterday morning.
More details of the report could not be known instantly since the SC registrar and the magistrates did not disclose the contents of the sealed document to the media.
The sources, however, said the committee did not make any recommendation in the report.
CMM Enamul Haque on August 10 formed a one-member judicial committee with Utpal Chowdhury to investigate the tragic incident.
Earlier on August 3, in response to the writ petition filed by Tajul Islam on behalf of the National Forum for Protection of Human Rights (NFPHR), the HC asked the CMM to form a committee with a magistrate to investigate the incident.
Utpal Chowdhury said he recorded statements of 54 people including 11 police personnel, family members of the six slain students, and the sole living victim Al Amin during the investigation, and took one month to write the report.
"I feel the real picture of the incident have been rightly presented in the investigation report," he said.
He declined to disclose the findings and observations of the report, terming it a sub-judice matter.
SC Registrar Shamsul Haque last evening said he received the sealed report, and had yet to open it.
"We will place the report to the chief justice next week for his approval to place it before the High Court bench concerned," he said.
Tajul Islam, who is also the secretary general of NFPHR, said they did not get a copy of the report yet.
He also said the HC will hear the writ petition for further order on the issue after the court reopens in the second week of October on completion of its ongoing autumn vacation.
Two other committees were formed by the Police Headquarters and the Criminal Investigation Department in July to investigate the incident, but none of those could complete the task till date.
Family members of the victims said yesterday evening that they saw television reports claiming the probe report found the victims innocent. They said the probe finding is now their only consolation.
Abdul Kader, father of Kanto, and Al Amin's father Khabir Bapari said they feel relieved as their sons will now be cleared of the fake allegation of attempted robbery.
They demanded arrest and punishment of those who killed the innocent students, and who tried to mislead the case to save the killers
The Daily Star