Vol. 5 Num 547 Sat. December 10, 2005  
Front Page

Yadav was coaxed to go to the spot
Witnesses in Netrakona say

Yadav Das, claimed by the authorities to be a suicide bomber, was by "no means" involved in Thursday's blasts in Netrakona and was rather persuaded to go to the explosion site, said several witnesses yesterday. They also denied his links to militancy.

Ripon Sarker, an injured in the blast, told this correspondent that he pleaded with Yadav to accompany him to the vicinity of the first bomb explosion in front of the Udichi office.

Several other witnesses, including a police official who witnessed both the blasts, the complainant of the cases filed for the explosions, as well as Yadav's neighbours at his work-place and village, his employer, rescuers, locals and his relatives strongly denied the accusation that Yadav was a militant.

The local police, who briefed the state minister about Yadav's being a suicide bomber, however, could not substantiate that he carried out the blast. Sources in the police said the local investigators are now confused about the minister's claim.

"He was not willing to go when I asked him to visit the spot with me," Ripon, owner of a motorcycle repairing shop now receiving treatment at Mymensingh Medical College and Hospital, said.

Hearing the sound of blast from his house on the Court Road, Ripon headed for the spot, and on his way he met Yadav standing in front of his shop.

"As I asked him to go there with me, he said he had to go somewhere to collect money where he worked for a person," Ripon said, adding, "But I coaxed him into going."

"When we reached the spot, we got separated in the crowd," he continued in a weak voice.

"I tried to go close to the spot where the first bomb exploded and suddenly heard the ear-splitting sound of a blast that made me unconscious," narrated Ripon, who sustained injuries to the chest, ear, head, legs and stomach.

Sub-Inspector (SI) Manwar Hossain, who saw both the blasts, told this correspondent that the police reached the spot at about 8:15am.

"I was picking up splinters from the spot of the first explosion when the second bomb blasted," he described. "I saw around 30-40 people including several of my colleagues lying on the floor and the street stained with blood," he said.

About Yadav, Manwar said, "We did not know who is who as the blast mutilated the faces of some of the injured."

"But I saw Yadav, whose identity we learnt later, with severe wounds in the thighs," he narrated. "Lots of small wire pieces, used as splinters in the bomb, pierced both his thighs, one through his penis, and some smoke sort of thing was seen coming out from his thighs," he added.

"Seeing the smoke, we primarily suspected that he could have been one of the bombers, but the injury could also be like that as he was so close to the explosion," he said.

"We [police] suspected he may have more bombs tied to his thighs but did not find any after he was taken to hospital," Manwar confirmed.

People at Yadav's work-place on Kachari Road including Montu Chowhan, owner of a rickshaw-making shop; Dilip Sarker, owner of a nearby tea-stall; Moinuddin, a wood trader; Monju Miah, a blacksmith; and several others, told this correspondent that Yadav by no means could have been involved in the blast.

He merely went to the explosion spot to see what was happening, said the neighbours, who know him for many years. They said Yadav was a calm, gentle and polite boy and never had any connection with any sort of strangers.

Monju Mia said he saw Yadav standing in front of his shop in the sun after he took his bath in the nearby pond at around 10:00am when a man came to the place and they both went together after a little talk. He did not even have any clothes on then when he was standing there, he added.

Yadav's neighbours in the village--Taiyab Ali and Samsul Mia--also described Yadav as mild natured. He used to come to the village often to give his family members money. They also said they had never seen anyone accompanying him to the village, contradicting the claim that he was involved in militancy.

Samiul Alam, officer-in-charge (OC) of the local police station, said Yadav was clean. No cases or complaints were found against him at the police station.

Similar report came from the police authority of Yadav's village Barhatta. The ward commissioner of ward No. 7 also told the press that he used to know the boy. "He was a good and polite boy," he commented, expressing his surprise that Yadav was named as a suspect or a bomber.

Yadav's brother Biplob Das, an employee of a godown of Mangal Saha at Barabazar, and sister Dipa Das, an employee of CARE, strongly denied the allegation and condemned the government's claim.

"The government is trying to divert the issue to some other track," Dipa told the press, adding, "It's also a plot against him to deprive him of justice."

The police, meanwhile, released Yadav's siblings Thursday evening after detaining them at noon. The SP of Netrakona said they held Yadav's brother and sister as the siblings of a suspected bomber, but could not say anything about why they released them later.

Rana Mandol, employer of Yadav, also brushed aside the idea of Yadav being a militant. "Rather, he was a good-natured boy, studied at his leisure period at the workshop where he used to spend his nights," he said, adding, "He even passed SSC exams from Open University last year."

Netrakona SP Ali Hossain Fakir yesterday expressed his confusion about Yadav being the bomber.

Sources in the police said the SP briefed the state minister about Yadav when he visited the spot following the observation of the doctors of Sadar Hospital.

The SP told The Daily Star that he suspected Yadav as a bomber after seeing his injuries. Although he claimed to have taken the opinion of the bomb experts of Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) and local explosives experts, he could not name them.

The SP also said the police have yet to confirm Yadav as a bomber and it would come after making an investigation.

Meanwhile, a member of the expert team from Dhaka visiting the blast site said they are yet to confirm if Yadav is the bomber. Seeking anonymity, the official added that they were also not clearing Yadav of the suspicion.

He also said the other suspect, who was on the bicycle, may be the actual bomber, and when he activated the bomb, the blast ripped his right hand off. Yadav might have been very close to him and so his injuries are of such a nature that rouse the suspicion.