Bangla CID ends probe in 2004 ULFA arms haul

Bangladesh has completed an extended investigation into its biggest arms haul case of 2004.

Dhaka: Bangladesh has completed an
extended investigation into its biggest arms haul case of 2004
involving 10 truck loads of weapons allegedly destined for
ULFA hideouts in India, with officials saying the probe done
over three years and 17 extensions revealed "astounding

"We are now set to submit the supplementary
chargesheet based on our (extended) investigations within the
stipulated deadline of June 29," a senior official of the
Criminal Investigation Department (CID) said to a news agency.

He said the extended information revealed some
"astounding facts" and the proposed chargesheet would suggest
indictment of several high profile politicians -- now detained
-- and intelligence agency bosses for their role in the
abortive weapon smuggling.

The extended investigations were carried out under a
court order as the case was initially brought for trial in
2008 before a Chittagong court which declined to accept the
investigation report because of ambiguity or incompleteness.

But the court had to extend its deadline 17 times with
the CID repeatedly seeking extensions for submitting the
supplementary chargesheet as their probe unfolded "revealing
facts" behind the haul.

CID officials said their proposed chargesheet, among
others, would seek indictment of the now detained former state
minister for home Lutfuzzaman Babar of the opposition
Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and former Industries
Minister Motiur Rahman Nizami of the fundamentalist
Jamaat-e-Islami, a crucial ally of ex-prime minister Khaleda
Zia`s past BNP-led four party coalition government.

The eight other suspects included former chiefs
National Security Intelligence (NSI) retired brigadier general
Abdur Rahim and Directorate General of Forces Intelligence
(DGFI) ex-major general Rezzaqul Haider Chowdhury and ULFA
leader Paresh Barua.

Barua and another suspect who was an industries
ministry official were on the run but the others were already
in jail to face the trial in person.

"Like the (Hindu) Goddess Durga, this case too have 10
hands, which are very strong... very influential quarters of
the then (BNP-led) government were involved in it who are to
be brought to justice with caution," chief prosecution lawyer
of the case Kamaluddin had told the court earlier while the
investigations were underway.

The 10 truckloads of weapons was seized in April 2004
despite suspected efforts of certain "influential quarters"
for its safe passage to ULFA hideouts in northeastern India
through Chittagong, but the case was shelved for years after
the apparently "accidental" seizure.

The seized weapons, which included over 27,000
grenades, 150 rocket launchers, over 11 lakh ammunitions and
1,100 sub machine guns, were unloaded at a government jetty
belonging to state-owned Chittagong Urea Fertiliser Company
Ltd (CUFL) to be reloaded in trucks destined for northeastern

The subsequent military-backed interim government in
2008 ordered a re-investigation amid allegations that there
was a deliberate attempt on the part of the then BNP-led
administration to suppress facts to weaken the case.

The reinvestigation process yielded the arrest of
several high-profile intelligence officials including former
NSI and DGFI chiefs and questioning of a number of senior
officers including the then home secretary Omar Faruque.

The investigators also found that the weapons were
manufactured at China North Industries Corporation or Norinco,
known outside of China for its high-tech defense products,
some of which are adaptations of Soviet equipment.

Officials earlier said ULFA leader Paresh Barua
oversaw the abortive smuggling process in connivance with the
influential people in Bangladesh.

India had earlier repeatedly alleged that India`s
separatist outfits took refuge in the rugged frontiers of
northeastern Bangladesh. The incumbent government of Prime
Minister Sheikh Hasina reportedly closed down ULFA camps,
evicted several of its top leaders in the past two years.


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