Culprits behind the deadly bomb blast on the people celebrating the Pahela Boishakh at Ramna Batamul are yet to be punished though 17 years have elapsed since the horrific incident, which left 10 people dead and 50 others injured.
The nation waits to see an exemplary punishment to the killers.
The trial in one of the two cases filed over the bombing in 2001 has been completed, but the verdict is yet to be executed as the case is now pending with High Court for death reference and appeal hearing.
The other case filed under Explosive Substances Act over the bomb blast is stuck with a Dhaka speedy trial tribunal due to non-appearance of witnesses and ‘negligence’ of officials concerned.
The deadly bomb attack took place at Ramna Batamul in the capital on April 14, 2001 during the cultural programme of Chhayanaut arranged to mark the Bengali New Year 1408.
Two cases -- one under Penal Code for the murders and the other under the Explosive Substances Act --were filed with Ramna police station over the attack.
Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of police found involvement of militant outfit Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami (HuJi) with the attack. The department pressed charges in both the cases against 14 militants, including Huji chief Mufti Hannan on November 30, 2008.
Two accused—-Mufti Hannan and Akbar—-admitted carrying out the violent attack on Pahela Baishakh, as they believed such programmes are anti-Islamic.
Thirteen years after the attack, a Dhaka court on June 23, 2014 awarded eight militants, including Mufti Hannan, to death and six others to life in prison in the case.
Those who received death sentences are Mufti Abdul Hannan, Arif Hasan Sumon, Moulana Akbar Hossain, Moulana Tajuddin, Hafez Jahangir Alam Badar, Maulana Abu Bakar, Mufti Shafikur Rahman and Mufti Abdul Hai.
Six others—-Shahadat Ullah Jewel, Hafez Maulana Abu Taher, Maulana Abdur Rauf, Maulana Sabbir Hossain, Moulana Yahiya and Maulana Shawkat Osman alias Sheikh Farid—got life imprisonment.
Of the accused, Mufti Hannan was executed in 2017 in another case and five of convicts—-Suman, Jewel, Abu Taher, Rouf and Akbar—-are behind bars while the others are still on the run.
Although the court delivered the verdict in the case, the verdict is yet to be executed as the appeals and death-reference hearing is still pending with the HC.
Eight of the condemned accused filed separate appeals with the HC challenging the trial court verdict in the case.
On January 17, 2017, the case was produced before the HC for hearing.
Deputy Attorney general Md Moniruzzman Rubel said the case is waiting for death reference hearing with an HC bench comprised of justices Mohammad Ruhul Kuddus and Bheesmadev Chakrabarty.
Meanwhile, trial in the case filed under the Explosive Substances Act is yet to be completed due to non-appearance of witnesses and alleged negligence of the prosecution.
The case is pending with Dhaka Speedy Trial Tribunal-1. The tribunal has, so far, recorded depositions of 25 prosecution witnesses, out of 84 since the case shifted to the speedy trial tribunal on October 1, 2012 in the blast case.
The prosecution is failing to produce witnesses before the court every scheduled date. There are allegations that the prosecution is not sincere in producing the witnesses.
Md Mazharul Kuddus Masud, a state defence counsel, said, “The court is issuing summons to produce witnesses but police are not producing the witnesses in time, resulting in a delay in the trial.”
Abu Abdullah Bhuiyan, special public prosecutor of the trial court said the witnesses reluctant in giving testimony once again as they earlier gave disposition in another case over the incident, which is delaying the trial.
Besides, the court is also busy with others cases including the August 21 grenade attack case while police can’t produce the accused in time as they are producing the same accused in many others cases at different courts.