Chattogram, Jan 24 (UNB) – A case filed over the killing of 24 people attending Awami League chief Sheikh Hasina’s rally in 1988 is yet to be resolved.
The people were killed when police fired indiscriminately on a procession led by Sheikh Hasina during the rule of military strongman HM Ershad.
Residents of the district have been observing January 24 as the ‘Mass Killing Day’. On Thursday morning, members of Awami League’s local unit and various cultural and social organisations paid tributes to the victims placing wreaths at a monument at the court building intersection.
A case was filed four years later on March 5, 1992, by lawyer Shahidul Huda with the Chittagong Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Court against 46 people, including then police commissioner Kazi Raqibul Huda.
Divisional Special Judge Court’s Special Public Prosecutor Advocate Mejbah Uddin Chowdhury said the case proceedings were nearing end.
But three of the eight charge-sheeted accused are reportedly dead. The lawyer of main accused Huda told the court that his client had died in the US and produced a death certificate.
The court sought police report on the matter. The police report too claimed Huda is dead. But the prosecution appealed against it and the court sought a report through the Home Ministry on Huda’s death. The report has not been filed yet.
The charge-sheet in the case was submitted in 1996 and charges were framed in May 2000. Among the 168 witnesses, only 41 have testified before the court so far.
What happened in Chattogram?
In 1988, Awami League chief Hasina, then leader of an alliance of 15 opposition parties, was heading towards Laldighi Maidan in a procession to attend a scheduled rally against the misrule of military dictator Ershad.
The autocratic government had deployed hundreds of police in and around Laldighi and other areas of the city to thwart the rally.
Without any provocation, police opened fire on Hasina’s motorcade and the people following it. Hasina survived the attempt on her life but 24 general people died. More than 300 others were also injured.
To destroy evidence, most of the bodies were cremated, irrespective of the victims’ religion, at the Abhaymitra crematorium amid tight police cordon.