People as well as the media say President Pardoned Laxmipur murderer AHM Biplob. The difference is that people don’t know the fact while the media know that it is in fact Prime Minister Hasina who made the presidential mercy possible. Constitutionally and by rule of business President only signs what Prime Minister’s office sends him to sign. It’s a constitutional debate whether a President can decline to sign such pardons. The person deciding the pardon is PM Hasina. It only needs the PM to say, pardon him. Then the home ministry ministry paperwork begin, goes through law ministry vetting ( in ideal world, did not happen in Biplob case), Prime Minister’s Office ( PMO) follows through and President signs. The following is a description of the crime AHM Biplob commited and Prime Minister Hasina thought pardonable.
Nurul Islam was a lawyer. He used to provide pro-bono legal help to the grassroots political activists of his constituency, Laxmipur. This was part of his community political activism. He probably hoped to run for a local government public office from his locality. This is the basic of textbook political activism, in any standard — be it in USA, be it in France, be it in Brazil or India.
His opponents in politics, however, were not that avid subscriber of basic textbook political activism. Local Awami League leader Taher hated legal challenges to his lawless and ruthless political career. So one night he sent his sons and other followers to take care of Nurul Islam. A group of men, led by sons of Taher including AHM Biplob, went to Nurul Islam’s home, broke open his door, forcefully brought out Nurul Islam who was trying to hide under the bed. They drove him to Taher’s home. In front yard of Taher’s home, in front of Taher’s wife and probably Taher himself, despite repeated mercy plea by Nurul Islam, despite relentless begging of life, despite loud crying to see his baby daughters one last time —- Biplob et el held Nurul Islam on the ground and slaughtered Nurul Islam. They then chopped Nurul Islam into pieces, carried the pieces in jute bags, drove to the river bank and threw the pieces of Nurul Islam remains in different locations.
Despite huge media coverage, because Taher was a leader of ruling Awami League, because the then PM, Sheikh Hasina did not feel like bringing Taher to books, legal process stumbled and nothing happened until AL was voted out of power. However, once the new government took over, as law ran in it’s own slow pace, finally partial conviction was obtained and Biplob was sentenced to death in lower court. He however remained absconding all along. As Awami League returned to power in 2008, Biplob, an absconding murderer with a sentence of death penalty, came out of hiding and resumed flexing muscle in local Laxmipur politics. Last year Abu Taher got PM Hasina’s blessings and ruling Awami League nomination to run for local government election. His muscle kids forced a victory. And this week PM Hasina used her executive power to have the president commute the death sentence for the above murder.
First it is Taher, his wife and his sons who do not find it disturbing to kidnap an lawyer- political leader, tie him, hold him down to the ground, slaughter him ignoring loud cries and begging for life and to chop him into pieces. Our PM must have read the description of the killing which is a part of the verdict. Any executive giving final approval of pardon recommendation must read the verdict. We don’t want to believe that our PM did not follow this basic ethics of commutation of sentence. So after Taher family, it is the mind of PM Hasina who does not find it disturbing to read about the above crimes and approve of the crime by commuting the sentence.
And then it is some of our our media and intellectuals who don’t find it disturbing to play politics by harping for the umpteenth time that AL BNP both are equally bad. In this AHM Biplob pardon case, they will tell the nation that Awami League did it now, BNP did it in the past.
What BNP did? A death sentence on a purely non political case in old Dhaka was commuted. Two accused were handed death penalty. The conviction of one accused Manik, was pardoned by Ershad himself. The conviction of Jhhintu, the other accused was not commuted because he was not in the country and as Jhhintu claims because of his past as a JCD/ BNP student activist. As law ministries note explained the reasoning for commutation, in same murder case while one convict is pardoned by the state, it is not morally correct to give capital punishment to the other one. Another basic reasoning of that commutation was that the death sentence was handed by a summery martial law court. That court did not follow normal legal process, the process was not transparent and the defendent did not have much legal rights. Very recently, citing the same reasoning a high court nullified the death sentence of 1970s Bangladesh opposition political party JSD’s military wing leader Abu Taher.
However accusations were made that the convict’s BNP past and connection with law minister may have helped the pardon. In pardon cases —- the crime, the quality of trial and other issues like pardon of co-accused etc rather than political identity should be considered. In this case martial law court conviction should have been the reason of commutation, not the convicts political identity. However, for the family of victim and for the sake of rule of law, the pardon of Jhhintu was a backward step.
By comparison or in response, what Hasina/AL did? Hasina promised change of days and improved forward journey. BNP commuted one, in response AL is commuting all political murders and crimes without the slightest regard to rule of law.
No one knows the full extent of the truth. So far we know of pardoning of senior AL leader, Deputy leader of Parliament Sajeda howdhury’s son, Sajed Akbar, who even did not bother to surrender from fugitive status.
Then we know of commutation of sentences of 20 death row convicts of BNP leader Gamma murder. These people chopped young Sabbir Ahmed Gamma to death. And they were tried through an open transparent and lengthy legal process and were handed death sentence. Yet PM Hasina commuted the sentence. In this case the convicts and the Prime Minister even did not bother to wait for the trial to go through appellate division. Similarly in AHM Biplob case, Hasina asked President to pardon this ruthless serial murderer also without letting him go through appellate division.
It is a pattern. She does not find killing, chopping, slaughtering of a BNP leader much a crime.
Yet some of our intellectuals will keep on harping that both Awami League and BNP did the same thing and try to shield the vicious mindset of Prime Minister Hasina. The problem is that a killer instinct cannot be hidden for too long. Those who try to hide or protect a killer mindset for personal gains becomes inevitable victims at some point.