JMB carried out bomb attacks in 63 districts, killing two people and injuring at least 200 others
The nation on Tuesday recalled the countrywide series of bomb attacks carried out by banned extremist outfit Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) on August 17, 2005.
Various sociocultural organizations and political parties commemorated the 16th anniversary of the serial blasts with a renewed call to stamp out extremism from the country.
On this day in 2005, around 500 bombs went off at 300 locations in all districts of the country, excluding Munshiganj. The bombs exploded in the space of half an hour from 11:30am.
JMB, which later claimed responsibility for the blasts, carried out the attacks when the BNP-Jamaat-led four-party alliance government was in power.
The 30-minute mayhem left two dead in Chapainawabganj and Savar, injuring 200 others in different parts of the country.
According to Police Headquarters, 159 cases were filed with different police stations across the country in connection with the bombings.
Police submitted charge sheets in 142 cases against 1,072 people, and final reports were submitted in 17 cases as the accused could not be identified. A total of 961 accused were arrested.
The trials in 102 cases have concluded with the sentencing of 339 people to different jail terms.
As many as 358 of the accused were acquitted.
Fifteen of the accused, including JMB founder Shaikh Abdur Rahman, were handed the death penalty.
Sixteen years on, 57 cases are still pending with different courts of the country, including five with Dhaka courts.
Public Prosecutor Md Abdullah Abu of Dhaka Metropolitan Sessions Judge Court said the trials were delayed as the regular court proceedings had been halted by the Covid-19 situation.
“Moreover, non-appearance of prosecution witnesses is holding up the trials,” he told Dhaka Tribune.
“Courts have now resumed their activities, so I hope that the trials will conclude soon,” added the state lawyer.
Since the cases were filed under the Explosive Substances Act, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment, many of the convicts have already finished their jail terms, and it is challenging to keep them all under surveillance, said police officials.
JMB had bared its fangs by carrying out the series blasts 16 years ago, but its activities suffered a huge setback with the execution of the death sentences of its six top leaders in 2007.
The six leaders — Shaikh Abdur Rahman, his second-in-command Siddiqul Islam alias Bangla Bhai, military commander Ataur Rahman Sunny, strategist Abdul Awal, Khaled Saifullah and Salahuddin — were hanged on March 30, 2007 for the killing of two judges in Jhalakathi district.