Vol. 4 Num 37 Thu. July 03, 2003  
Front Page

Cache was meant for smuggling?

Police and intelligence forces are working on a theory that the huge ammunition and explosives recovered from Bogra were actually meant for smuggling, sources said.

One of the assumptions that the police are verifying is that the munitions were supplied by a network of India's Tripura-based All Tripura Tiger Force (ATTF) that was using Bangladesh land as a corridor to smuggle the cache to Maoist guerillas in Nepal.

Sources said Jogesh Dev Barman who was arrested from Satchhari forest in Chunarughat upazila, Habiganj is the main focus of the task force intelligence.

A top leader of the Tripura Bahumukhi Samabay Samity, Jogesh, remained tight-lipped during interrogation in Dhaka yesterday. Sources said Jogesh apparently was the key man in the ammunition trade.

Based on sketchy information and evidence, police and intelligence officials have drawn up a picture of the ammo network. The Daily Star however could not confirm its accuracy.

One of the theories suggests that the ATTF might have brought the ammunition and explosives from China via Myanmar.

Intelligence sources assume that the ammunition was first smuggled in from Myanmar to Tripura and then brought to Satchhari in Habiganj. The arms dealers then hired a local smuggling network to transport the munitions by a truck loaded with pineapples.

The truck might have been handed to a group of smugglers in Bhairab and was driven to Bogra to deliver it to another group. The group in Bogra was perhaps to drive the vehicle to Panchagarh where the munitions would have been given over to another group.

Then it was to be smuggled into Nepal, the assumptions go.

But the smugglers who drove the truck to Bogra failed to meet the other team perhaps due to miscommu-nication.

The truck had moved around the rendezvous point in Bogra for about four hours, perhaps in search of the pick-up team. Finally, the driver saw Jalal, one of the accused in the case, following the truck on a motorbike. This might have made the truck driver nervous who mistook Jalal for a member of the law enforcers.

At this point, the driver and his mates abandoned the truck at Jogarpara village. Jalal and his friends, who are locally known as small-time hooligans, then started looting the abandoned truck. Some villagers also joined the looting of the pineapples that camouflaged the munitions.

But when they saw the bullets, the looters could not agree on what to do with them. Some of them went to the police and the whole thing blew up.

Incidentally, Jalal and his friends are involved with various political parties -- the Awami League, the BNP, the JP and the Jamaat.

When contacted, a top official of the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) said, "We are not in a capacity to say anything on the matter."

The home secretary and other high officials of the home ministry were in a meeting till 9:00pm yesterday and so they could not be reached.