Vol. 4 Num 290 Mon. March 22, 2004  
Front Page

Jamuna Group chief Babul arrested

A Dhaka court yesterday sent Jamuna Group Chairman Nurul Islam Babul to jail after police arrested him in connection with the murder of a dredger worker in September last year.

He was taken to the Court of Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (CMM) at 2:10pm that denied him bail.

Law enforcers of Gulshan and Badda police stations, Rapid Action Team, Detective Branch, Criminal Investigation Department and Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI) raided Babul's house in Gulshan-2, scaling the compound wall at 2:15am.

A law enforcer identified himself as a DGFI staff after a member of Babul's family answered the door. The DGFI man forced him to the Cantonment Police Station without allowing him to make a phone call, his family said.

"About 100 law enforcers raided the house. Police beat a guard as he refused to give them the key to the main gate of the building," says a press release of Jamuna Group that described the arrest as harassment.

Sources said the law enforcers took him to an unknown place from the police station and returned him after one and a half hours of interrogation by intelligence agencies.

Police clubbed photojournalists in the act of taking snaps of Babul when he was produced before the CMM's court.

In the forwarding report, police linked Babul as having a role in the killing of Alam Pramanik on September 1 last year and alleged the businessman went underground after the incident. Sixteen-year-old Alam worked for a real estate project in Badda.

In judicial statements, three witnesses named Babul as involved in the murder, police said, adding he should not be freed until the probe ends.

Monirul Islam, owner of the dredger, who filed the first information report (FIR), said his employees including Alam were sleeping on the dredger on that night.

According to the FIR, an armed gang of up to 12 allegedly led by Amir Hossain and Ripon barged into the dredger and fire at the workers at will. A fatally injured Alam was taken to Suhrawardy Heart Diseases Hospital where he died.

A supplementary FIR Monirul filed on September 7, 2003 with the CMM's court quoted Alam as telling his colleagues before dying that Amir and Ripon shot him in line with a blueprint of Babul and his son Shamim Islam. Alam also named two other attackers as Saidur Rahman and Dewan Ali, the supplementary FIR says.

All arrestees except for Babul are now on bail.

Defence lawyers submitted a bail petition before the court. Barrister Rokanuddin Mahmud, moving the petition, said Babul was not named in the FIR and was added to the list of accused in the supplementary FIR as part of a conspiracy.

Jealous of his success in business, an unnamed group implicated Babul in the case to ruin his image and police arrested him without a warrant, Rokanuddin said.

Court Inspector Alfa Zaman Nokib and Advocate Abdur Rahman Hawlader opposed the bail petition and prayed for sending Babul to jail.

Magistrate Abdur Rab Khan fixed March 28 for further hearing on the bail petition and issued an order sending him to Dhaka Central Jail. The defence lawyers placed another petition to reconsider the judgement that the magistrate rejected.

On April 25 last year, police arrested Babul two days after an alleged death threat to Mahmudur Rahman, executive chairman of the Board of Investment. But police then said Babul was arrested on charge of grabbing a water-body in Savar and was freed on bail.

Earlier to that incident, State Minister for Home Affairs Lutfozzaman Babar filed a general diary with police, accusing Babul of threatening to kill him.

Sources said a state minister closely monitored yesterday's raid and the decision to arrest Babul was taken on Saturday night and the minister instructed police to launch the sweep on permission from the Prime Minister's Office.

Babul, owner of many businesses and a leading Bangla newspaper, Dainik Jugantor, marketed two "energy drinks" Hunter and Crown, but the government suspended their sale on alcohol content earlier this month.

The government is considering amending the law to restrict beverages to 0.05 alcohol content, down from 5 percent, unless they are marketed as alcoholic drinks.