State witnesses turn hostile, plaintiff AWOL: the shambolic state of Dhaka commissioner Binoy Sarkar murder case

Six of the accused have been languishing in jail for years

Prokash Biswasbdnews24.com
Published : 13 Nov 2022, 06:20 AM
Updated : 13 Nov 2022, 06:20 AM

Binoy Krishna Sarkar was an elected representative for ward 72 of the then united Dhaka City Corporation back in 2002.

The BNP-backed commissioner was shot dead by unidentified assailants near Jhulon Bari lane in the older parts of the city on May 22 of that year.

Binoy’s wife Sarika Sarkar, who later became the commissioner of the same ward after winning the bypoll, lodged a murder case at the Kotwali Police Station naming 26 men.

It’s been 20 years since the homicide, but there has been little visible progress in the case.

The case proceedings were stalled after a High Court bench blocked them in 2006. The Supreme Court lifted the stay order nine years later, effectively paving the way for the prosecution to restart the proceedings.

However, it was just a scratch on the surface compared to the prosecution’s actual miserable situation.

The situation is so catastrophic that the prosecution could not even locate the plaintiff, Sarika Sarkar.

A police officer back in 2017 notified the court dealing with the case that the state failed to locate her. An aide of the court, who did not want to reveal his identity as he was not authorised to reveal such information, said a frustrated Sarika had migrated to India years ago after the High Court stalled proceedings of the case in 2006.

The prosecution was forced to declare some of the crucial state witnesses ‘hostile’ after they reversed their testimony.

Some other witnesses were scheduled to turn up on Oct 23 this year, but they never did.

The judge in the case, Md Morshed Alam of Dhaka Metropolitan Fourth Sessions Judges’ Court, sent out a letter recently to the Criminal Investigation Department or CID to produce its former officer Munshi Atikur Rahman, also the investigative officer in the case, in front of the court on Jan 23 next year to record his deposition.

THE CURRENT STATE OF THE CASE

The CID charged 10 people in the case on Aug 19, 2004.

The case effectively began on Sept 7 the next year after the Dhaka Second Additional Metropolitan Sessions Judge had framed charges against the accused.

The case was moved to Dhaka’s Second Speedy Trial Tribunal on Mar 1, 2006.

Out of the 10 charged with the murder, six are already behind bars.

They are - Ranjit Chandra Nandi, Rashed Ahmed Bhutto, Shamim alias Guddu, Zakir Hossain, Asif Ahmed Sajib and Mosharraf Hossain.

Three of the accused are out on bail. They are - Masud Rana, Ahmed Aurangazeb Kabir, and Ahmed Pervez Kabir.

One of the accused, Shahid alias ‘Dakat Shahid’ was killed in a so-called ‘gunfight’ with police in Dhaka’s Laxmibazar area a few years ago.

But Shahid is still listed as an “accused behind bars” as police have yet to submit a report on his death with the court.

A High Court bench in April 2006 stayed the proceedings of the case after considering a writ petition by one of the accused.

Nine years later, on Apr 29, 2015, the Supreme Court lifted the stay, but the docket lay dormant in the High Court division for the next 18 months.

The Second Speedy Trial Tribunal restarted proceedings again on Jan 25, 2017. However, the case was again moved to Dhaka’s fourth Metropolitan Sessions Judge’s Court on Oct 27 that same year as the prosecution failed to produce all the witnesses.

The speedy tribunal recorded the testimonies of 12 witnesses. After the case moved to a regular court, the prosecution has yet to produce a single witness in the case, confirmed the court’s Bench Clerk Saidul Islam.

Md Sahabuddin, the state-appointed defence attorney told bdnews24.com that he is not involved in the case anymore.

“The only thing I remember about the case is the docket of the case lay dormant in the dispatch section of the High Court for years. I don’t remember much else about the case as I am not involved in it anymore,” he said.

‘HOSTILE’ STATE WITNESSES

According to the prosecution, the 12 witnesses who turned up before the speedy tribunal did not implicate the accused directly in the case.

The situation is so dire that the prosecution had to declare two of the witnesses ‘hostile’ to cross-examine them.

For example, a baker named Ramprasad Pal from Dhaka’s Shakharibazar area, in his recorded deposition under section 14 of the penal code, told the court that he found commissioner Binoy right after he was shot and Binoy named all of the accused before dying.

But when Ramprasad was produced in front of the speedy tribunal, he did not name the accused, effectively changing his testimony.

Other witnesses in the case - KM Mujibullah, a Jubo League Leader of Dhaka’s Rajar Dewri area, Anwar Hossain, a tea stall owner in the same area, Md Delwar Hossain, from Keraniganj Shuvyadda, Jibon Chandra Sheel and Samir Kumar Roy from the Tantibazar area, Narayan Chandra Basak from the Kotwali area, and Paresh Chandra Das from Prasanna Poddar Lane -all followed suit.

The testimony of Nirmal Sarkar, Binoy’s uncle, went in favour of the prosecution.

He has so far been the only witness cross-examined by the defence.

The defence chose not to cross-examine the rest as their testimonies so far had gone the defence’s way.

AWOL PLAINTIFF

The plaintiff in the case, Sarika Sarkar, recorded her address at 8/1 Prasanna Poddar lane in the older part of the city when she filed the case back in 2002.

The prosecution, however, could not locate her there since the case proceedings had reopened.

Md Salauddin, a police sub-inspector attached to the Kotwali Police Station, informed the tribunal in 2017 that Sarika’s neighbours confirmed that she does not reside at that address anymore.

Saidul Islam, the bench clerk of Dhaka’s fourth Metropolitan Sessions Judge’s Court, said he does not see any future in the case as the prosecution cannot even locate the plaintiff.

Shamsul Haque Badal, the special prosecutor of the Second Speedy Trial Tribunal, said the fate of the case hinges on Sarika’s testimony.

“If the prosecution can’t find her, justice for Binoy will remain elusive,” he said.

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher