Ex-B`desh minister to be further quizzed in ULFA arms haul

A Bangladeshi court today directed the police to show a detained former Home Minister as arrested for suspected links to a 2004 weapons smuggling believed to be destined for India`s banned separatist outfit ULFA.

Updated: Oct 03, 2010, 20:48 PM IST

Dhaka: A Bangladeshi court today directed the police to show a detained former Home Minister as arrested for suspected links to a 2004 weapons smuggling believed to be
destined for India`s banned separatist outfit ULFA.

Lutfuzzaman Babar, the controversial former junior Home Minister in the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)-led government, was arrested nearly three years ago under
emergency rules during the past military-backed interim government on graft and criminal charges.
The Metropolitan Magistrate court in southeastern port city of Chittagong ordered the police to show Babar as arrested for suspected links to the weapons haul meant for
United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) militants in northeastern India.

The police sought a 10-day remand to quiz him for his suspected involvement in the country?s biggest ever arms haul. "Babar was found involved in the incident during
further investigations (of the case) and it is evident that he had manipulated the (earlier) investigations," the state-run BSS news agency quoted investigation officer Moniruzzaman Chowdhury of Criminal Investigation Department (CID) as
telling the court.
Judge Fazlul Bari set October 13 for hearing the remand prayer, but ordered Babar to be shown as arrested in the arms haul case.

Babar, who was a minister in former prime minister Khaleda Zia?s BNP-led government, is also being questioned in connection with the deadly August 21, 2005 grenade attack on
incumbent Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

The order came two days after former Chittagong police chief Sabbir Ali told the court that Babar had asked him not to arrest several suspected operators of the elite National
Security Intelligence despite their suspected involvement in the weapons smuggling.

"We have found crucial evidence against several high-profile people during the process of extended investigations... we have also found clues to his (Babar`s) involvement in the weapons haul," a senior police officer familiar with the investigations earlier said.
He said several high-profile suspects, including former Home Secretary Omar Faruque, pointed their fingers to Babar. The consignment of 10 truckloads of weapons was seized
in April 2004 despite suspected efforts of certain "influential quarters" for its safe passage to ULFA hideouts in India through Chittagong. The seized weapons included over 27,000 grenades, 150 rocket launchers, over 11 lakh ammunitions and 1,100 sub machine guns.

They were unloaded at a government jetty belonging to state-owned Chittagong Urea Fertiliser Company Ltd (CUFL) to be reloaded in trucks destined for India. The military-backed interim government in 2008 ordered the reinvestigation amid allegations that there was a deliberate attempt by the administration under the BNP-led government to suppress facts in abid to weaken the case.

PTI