Mintu Chowdhury and Mitoon Chowdhury,
Published: 2014-01-30 13:19:37 BdST
As it turned out on midnight 1-2 April 2004, the call was no April Fool's prank.
It led the police to the reserved jetty of the state-owned CUFL on the south bank of the river Karnaphuli, where boxes full of weapons and ammunition, enough to arm a large military formation, were being offloaded.
Just at that moment the phone rang at the police outpost of the north bank of the river, one kilometre away from the jetty.
Karnaphuli Police Station’s port police outpost’s erstwhile constable Golam Rasul, in-charge Sergeant Md Alauddin and Patenga Police Station’s coal depot police outpost Sergeant Helal Uddin were present on the spot that night.
Three of them narrated details of that night in their statement to the court.
In his statement on Oct 30, 2012, Habilder Golam Rasul said he received a call at the police outpost identifying himself around 10.45pm.
“The other side of the phone said, 'Mr Habilder, go to the CUFL jetty terminal and have a look - a huge cache of arms are being loaded in trucks with the crane.' When I asked for name and details, the person hung up the phone,” Rasul had said.
Rasul had immediately informed sergeant Alauddin of the issue by phone.
He met Sergeant Alauddin on his way to the jetty from the police outpost. The two had headed for the jetty terminal on Alauddin motorbike.
On reaching the jetty Rasul saw many people, two trawlers loaded with boxes, seven trucks and a crane. The boxes were being loaded on the trucks from the trawlers with the crane, he said in the court.
“When he asked the workers there, they said those were machinery parts, and the owner was around,” Habilder Rasul had said.
But Rasul and sergeant Alauddin could not find the owner of the goods in the terminal, he had said.
In his statement on Aug 29, 2012, Sergeant Alauddin has said he had called up erstwhile Deputy Commissioner (Port) of Chittagong Metropolitan Police Abdullah Hel Baki after failing to find the owner.
“The DC directed us to ensure no truck loaded with these goods left the jetty. He also said he would send coal depot police outpost Sergeant Helal Uddin and Karnaphuli Police Station OC Ahadur Rahman to the spot.”
Sergeant Helal Uddin arrived at the jetty on the DC’s order immediately after 12 midnight and joined Habilder Rasul and Sergeant Alauddin.
The three policemen went to a tea stall near the jetty.
Two men from the crowd of people on the jetty approached sergeant Alauddin.
One of them had identified himself as Hafizur Rahman and the other was Abul Hossain, a leader of Indian separatist United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA), Sergeant Alauddin has told the court.
“Hafizur Rahman got angry with me and said these are arms and ammunition. All government agencies are aware of it. ‘Leave the place otherwise you will be in trouble.’ Hafizur threatened."
“Then Hafizur called up someone from his mobile phone addressing him as 'Sir' and said ‘There are some policemen here, ask them to leave’,” sergeant Alauddin said.
He continued, “Hafizur then handed the mobile phone to me, ‘Talk to your boss, the Director General of National Security Intelligence’.”
As Alauddin refused to talk over phone, Abul Hossain said, “Leave the place. You will come to know later who I am.”
Sergeant Alauddin says he called up DC Abdullah Hel Baki to report the threats of Hafizur and Abul Hossain.
DC Baki asked Alauddin to keep an eye on the proceedings and ensure no truck left the jetty.
After a while Karnaphuli Police Station OC Ahadur Rahman arrived at the spot with a big police force.
Hafizur and Abul Hossain talked to the OC and identified themselves as the owners of the cache of arms and ammunition.
The workers at the jetty tried to flee seeing the police, but five of them were detained.
Another team of police along with DC Baki reached the spot.
Hafizur managed to flee.
Sergeant Helal Uddin had told the court, “Sergeant Alauddin and I went to the DC with Abul Hossain. The DC spoke to Abul Hossain.
“Abul Hossain pressurised the DC to release the goods.
“Then DC Baki spoke to the policemen there. After a while, Abul Hossain also escaped.”
The 10-truck load of arms and ammunition were taken to Damparha Police Lines in the early morning of April 2.
Former NSI Deputy Director (Technical) Retd Maj Liakat Hossain had posed himself Abul Hossain that night, claimed state counsel Kamal Uddin Ahmed.
Two policemen had identified Liakat as Abul Hossain at a TI parade later in Chittagong jail after the arrest.
According to the investigation, the huge cache of arms and ammunition meant for ULFA were to be sent to India through Bangladesh border after they came by sea.