High Court gets probe reports on Zakir’s wrongful jail

The Daily Star August 14, 2012

The government yesterday submitted two reports to the High Court on the issue of an innocent Zakir Hossain wrongfully serving a life term for another Zakir, tried in absentia for murder.

Of the reports, one was prepared by the deputy commissioner of Narayanganj and the other by the home ministry.

Five years in jail for no offence

Both recommended punitive measures against three police officers found responsible for the illegal imprisonment of Zakir, who has been in jail for around five years now.

Accepting the reports, placed by Deputy Attorney General Amit Talukder, the HC bench of Justice AHM Shamsuddin Choudhury Manik and Justice Farid Ahmed said it might issue directives on the matter today.

Zakir was produced before the bench from Kashimpur jail yesterday. He will be brought to court again today.

Manoj Kanti Boral, the Narayanganj DC, in his report said Md Zakir Hossain, son of Shamsul Haque of Hathkhola Beparipara in Araihazar of Narayanganj, was “fully innocent”.

Citing the recorded statements of 16 local people, he said Zakir lost his mother while he was a child. Later, his father Shamsul married again. Growing up in negligence, Zakir had worked as a domestic help in Dhaka.

“By nature, he is calm and peaceful. He was in no way involved in the killing. He just could not manage to secure his release after his arrest, as he was very poor,” the DC added.

Zakir, who has no criminal record, was picked up by police on November 26, 2007, in the capital’s Paltan area, where he used to work at a private firm. The following day, police produced him before a Narayanganj court, identifying him as a “fugitive convict” in a murder case filed on November 11, 1991.

The court sent him to jail to serve a life sentence for “murder conviction”.

On November 23, 1996, the district and sessions judge of Narayanganj convicted one Zakir, son of Shamsuddin of Satyabandi Beparipara of Araihazar, and sentenced him to life in jail for killing Vickchan Mia of Narsingdi, on November 11, 1991.

The court sentenced four others to 10 years’ imprisonment. Vickchan was mugged and killed in Bajbi Bazar area of Araihazar in Narayanganj.

The DC in his report said it appeared that MA Razzak, then officer-in-charge of Araihazar Police Station, had implicated innocent Zakir without scrutinising the name and the address properly.

Shahidul Islam, then sub-inspector of the same police station, had committed an “unlawful act by arresting the innocent Zakir”.

According to the report, some valuable years of Zakir’s life have been wasted, while his wife and two sons have been living in misery.

The DC recommended further departmental investigation by police to identify the real killer, departmental measures against police officer MA Razzak and stringent punitive action against SI Shahidul.

The home ministry, which got the probe report from the current Araihazar OC, has found that three officers of the police station — former OC Razzak and SIs Khorshed Alam and Shahidul — were responsible for it all.

It suggested punitive measures against the three police officers.

Earlier on June 21, based on a Bangla daily report, the HC bench issued a rule asking the officers concerned to explain why keeping Zakir imprisoned should not be declared illegal.

Zakir was produced before the HC on July 15 this year as per its June 21 order. That day he told the court that police arrested him saying they needed to have a “talk” with him. They did not inform him if there was a case against him or if he had a conviction.

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