Paper No. 5642 Dated 03-Feb-2014
By Bhaskar Roy
A special court in the port city of Chittagong, Bangladesh, sentenced (Jan 30) 14 to death. They were the principals in illegally importing 10 truck loads of arms, ammunition and explosives on April 01, 2004 by sea. The court ruled that the consignment was destined for Indian separatist/ terrorist organization, the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) to wage war against the Indian state.
The consignment included 1,500 boxes containing 4,930 sophisticated fire arms of different types, 840 rocket launchers, 300 rockets, 27,020 grenades, 2000 grenade launching tubes, 6,392 magazines and 11.41 million rounds of bullets. They were unloaded at the Chittagong Urea Fertilizer Ltd. (CUFL) jetty, which was under the ministry of Industries.
Those sentenced and the positions they held during the BNP-Jamaat-e-Islami government (2001-2006) are as follows: Jamaat chief (Amir) and minister for Industries Motiur Reheman Nizami, BNP leader and minister of state for Home Affairs Lutfozzaman Babar, National Security and Intelligence (NSI) director general Brig. Gen. Abdur Rahim, Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI) director general Rezzakul Haider Choudhury, former NSI director wing commander Shahabuddin, former CUFL general manager (Admin) Enamul Haque, ex-managing director of CUFL Mohsin Talukdar, and ex- NSI field officer Akbar Hossain Khan. Two others, additional secretary of industry minister Nurul Amin and commander in chief of ULFA stationed in Dhaka, Paresh Barua, were also sentenced. The verdict was delivered after permission from High Court division. Those sentenced can appeal against the judgment.
The enormity of the conspiracy can only be imagined considering the size of the arms consignment. Although there was regular illegal shipment of arms through Bangladesh to Indian insurgents, this was the biggest consignment ever. Paresh Barua was in Chittagong on April 01 to receive the consignment. Unfortunately for the conspirators, the trucks carrying the arms were discovered that night in a routine check by two police officers. These officers were immediately arrested and put in jail in a false arms case. The main case was sought to be buried quietly. Babar even issued a statement that the arms consignment had been destroyed by a court order.
Had the arms crossed the border and reached Assam the devastation it would have created is unimaginable. The ULFA also may have sold parts of the consignment to other Indian insurgents like the Naga NSCN (I/B), the Mizos and the like.
Initial movement in the case was seen after the army-backed caretaker government came into position in November 2007, when the Chittagong metropolitan judge ordered further investigations in February 2008 following a prosecution petition. The trial finally began in November 2011, after the Awami League led alliance government came to power. Judge Mojibur Rehman observed that a small cantonment could have been armed with the weapons seized.