15 years into M\'singh cinema blasts
Victims yet to get justice
15 years into M'singh cinema blastsThe victims of the 2002 bombings at four cinema halls in Mymensingh have yet to receive justice 15 years on.
Eight cases have been filed over the incidents, said Mymensingh Judge's Court Special Public Prosecutor Sheikh Abul Hashem, but complications such as witnesses skipping testimony and suspects being snatched from prison vans, have led to delays.
On Dec 7, 2002, the day after Eid-ul-Fitr, near simultaneous explosions at the Ajanta, Alka, Chhayabani and Purabi halls led to the deaths of 18 and injured over 200.
Eight cases were eventually filed over the incidents, said CID Assistant Superintendent of Police Anisur Rahman, four under the Explosives Act and four for murder.
The suspects in the cases are 'JMB activists' Anwar Hossain alias Bhagina Shahid, Salahuddin Salehin, and Jahidul Islam Sumon alias Boma Mizan.
Bhagina Shahid is currently in prison. Salehin and Mizan were snatched from a police van. Mizan was later killed in a 'shootout' with police.
On June 12, 2006, Salahuddin Salehin confessed to a court in Jamalpur following his arrest.
"The plan to attack the four cinema halls was hatched in 2002 at a home in Jamalpur and later at a home on Mymensingh College Road," he said.
JMB members Shahid and Mizan had worked with him to detonate the bombs at the cinemas nearly simultaneously, he added.
A nationwide red alert was issued at the time.
The then Mymensingh Awami League President and current Religious Affairs Minister Matior Rahman and the party's Organising Secretary Saber Hossain Chowhdury and 29 others were arrested on suspicion of involvement in the incident, the police officer said.
"Police first filed a case against 43 people. After Salehin's confession, Matior Rahman, Saber Hossain and 38 others were dropped from the case."
Those involved with the case believe it has been delayed due to the accusations against those dropped from the case and lack of proof.
It was also delayed when two of the suspects were snatched following an attack on a prison van that led to the death of a policeman, said Special Public Prosecutor Sheikh Abul Hashem.
Jan 15, 2018 has been set for the next hearing, he said.
Twenty victims of the attack were left permanently disabled. Rajib Hossain of Bhatikashor was left mentally disabled, Ajanta cinema hall operator Fazal Miah lost both legs.
"My son is suffering from mental distress," said Moslem Uddin, Rajib Hossain's father. "Only death is a deliverance."
"It has been difficult without legs," said Fazal Miah. "The government hasn't helped us much. Sometimes, my family has to go without food."
"It is sad that the case has not been settled in so many years," said Religious Affairs Minister Rahman. "I will go to court myself to petition for a speedy trial."
Rahman also said he would also provide support to those injured in the incident if they came forward.