• Monday, Sep 23, 2019
  • Last Update : 12:45 am

August 15 killings: Long wait for justice

  • Published at 01:18 am August 15th, 2019

Although 44 years have passed, justice for the killing of 25 people in three more attacks on the night of August 15 remain elusive due to inaction and negligence of the government

After a 35 year wait, the nation got justice for the assassination of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, but the justice for the killing of 25 other people on the night of August 15 in 1975 is yet to see light.

Although 44 years have passed, justice for the killing of 25 people in three more attacks on the night of August 15 remain elusive due to inaction and negligence of the government.

According to case documents, some disgruntled army personnel killed Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s nephew and founding chairman of Awami Jubo League, Sheikh Fazlul Haque Moni, and his wife Arzu Moni, at their Dhanmondi residence on the same night.

In other attacks, Bangabandhu’s brother-in-law and former water resources minister Abdur Rab Serniabat was also killed at his Minto Road residence in the capital while a mortar assault by a group of army personnel killed 14 in Mohammadpur, taking the death toll to 34 on that fateful night.

Three cases were filed for these killings in 1996. Of the cases, two are still on the backburner while all the accused in the case filed for Sheikh Moni’s murder have been acquitted by a lower court following a final report of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID).

Earlier, law Minister Anisul Huq and Attorney General Mahbubey Alam had said several times that they would take steps for disposal of the pending cases, but their offices are yet to make any move in this regard.

Ministry sources said they could do nothing about the Sheikh Moni murder case as the police had already given their final report in the case.

However, legal experts said the government can revive this case by conducting a further investigation, if they want.

Serniabat murder

According to the case, a group of army personnel led by Maj Shahriar Rashid, Maj Aziz Pasha, Capt Majed, and Capt Nurul Huda stormed Serniabat’s residence on 27 Minto Road at about 5:00am.

They went up to the first floor and broke open the door. Confused, Serniabat made a phone call to the residence of Bangabandhu.

The army officials rounded up the residents to the drawing room on the ground floor. Shahriar and Majed fired shots at them.

Frightened, Beauty Serniabat caught hold of her father, Abdur Rab Serniabat. Shahriar Rashid, Aziz Pasha, and Nurul Huda fired shots again and left the scene.

Abdur Rab Serniabat, his nephew Shaheed Serniabat, daughter Baby Serniabat, son Arif Serniabat, grandson Babu Serniabat, who was four, domestic helpers Potka and Laxmir Ma, and Abdur Naim Khan alias Rintu, died on the spot.

Abul Hasnat Abdullah, son of Abdur Rab Serniabat, survived hiding behind a door.

The case statement said Shahan Ara Begum, wife of Hasnat, her mother-in-law Amena Begum, brother-in-law Abul Khair Serniabat, sisters-in-law Beauty and Rina Serniabat, and domestic helpers Rana, Rafiqul Islam, Golam Mahmud, and Lalit Das, were seriously injured.

After the incident, Shahan Ara Begum filed a case with Ramna Police Station on October 21, 1996.

After the trial started against the 18 accused, including Bazlul Huda, the proceedings of the case were stayed by the High Court in November 1999 following a criminal revision filed by one of the accused, against the order of charge framing.

Public Prosecutor Abdus Sattar Dulal of Dhaka First Additional Metropolitan Sessions Judge Court told Dhaka Tribune: “The case is still pending with this court due to the stay order of the higher court.”

Sheikh Moni killing

A group of 25 to 30 army men surrounded Sheikh Moni’s House 170 on Road 13/1 in Dhanmondi at around 1:30am on August 15, 1975. Carrying Sten guns and Chinese rifles, eight to ten of them in black uniform went up to the first floor and came down after firing shots, said the case statement.

Moni’s close aide, Mohammad Shahabuddin, who was on the ground floor, went upstairs and found Moni and his wife Arzu lying on the floor in a critical condition.

Moni's parents, younger sister Sheikh Rekha, and brother, Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim, were crying.

Sheikh Maruf, younger brother of Moni, turned up there. Arzu cried to Selim for help and asked him to save them and their two sons, Sheikh Fazle Shams Porosh and Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh.

Shahabuddin, Selim, and Maruf, took Sheikh Moni and Arzu to Dhaka Medical College and Hospital, where the doctors declared them dead.

Long after the incident, Shahabuddin filed a case with Dhanmondi Police Station on November 20, 1996, accusing 16 people, including former deputy minister Taheruddin Thakur in the case.

After investigation, CID gave a final report clearing the accused in the case on August 22, 2002.

Accepting the CID’s report, the Dhaka Chief Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court on December 30, 2002, acquitted all the accused without notifying the complainant in the case.

Neither the investigation officer nor the court concerned informed the plaintiff about the fate of the probe. Later, no initiative was taken for further investigation to date.

Mortar attack in Mohammadpur

According to the case, Mohammad Ali, of Sher Shah Suri Road in Mohammadpur, woke up with wounds in his left thigh at about 5:30am. He heard the sound of mortar fire.

Hearing cries, he went to a nearby house on Road-9 and found Rezia Begum, wife of the house owner, Musa, and their daughter Nasima, dead.

He then went to House-196 and 197 on Shahjahan Road in the neighbourhood where he saw the bodies of Habibur Rahman, Anwara Begum, another lady by the same name, Moyful Bibi, Sabera Begum, Abdullah, Rafiqul, Safia Khatun, Shahabuddin, Kasheda, Aminuddin, and Honufa Bibi, all killed by mortar fire.

Later, he came to know that 14 people had been killed in Mohammadpur by mortar shells fired by some military personnel.

Fourteen people were killed by mortar shells fired by military personnel in the Mohammadpur area on the same night.

Mohammad Ali filed a case with Mohammadpur Police Station on November 29, 1996, accusing Syed Farooq Rahman and 10 others for the incident.

The trial started with the Dhaka Fourth Additional Metropolitan Sessions Judges Court on November 1, 2006, against the 11 accused.

So far 14 out of 58 prosecution witnesses have testified in court.

The case was stuck in trial court due to non-appearance of witnesses and the alleged negligence of prosecution lawyers. The prosecution failed to produce any witnesses in the last five years since the witness Ramij Uddin had testified before the court on April 24, 2014. 

Expressing frustration with the sluggish proceedings, complainant Mohammad Ali, also a freedom fighter who was injured in the attack, told Dhaka Tribune: “I want justice and want to die only after seeing judgment in the case.”