Dhaka/New Delhi, Nov 27 (IANS) Seven members of banned terror outfit Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh, including one wanted in India in the 2014 Burdwan blast case, were sentenced to death on Wednesday for carrying out the deadly attack at Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka in 2016, which killed 22 people, including Tarishi Jain, an Indian student, and a number of foreign nationals.
The Dhaka Anti-terrorism Special Tribunal Judge Mohammad Mujibur Rahman acquitted one of the accused identified as Mizanur Rahman alias Boro Mizan and sentenced rest of the seven accused to death besides slapping a fine of 50,000 Bangladeshi taka on each of the convicts. Mizanur Rahman was acquitted as allegations brought against him could not be proved.
The seven terrorists sentenced to death are Jahangir Hossain, Aslam Hossain Rash, Hadisur Rahman, Rakibul Hasan Regan, Md Abdus Sabur Khan, Shariful Islam Khaled and Mamunur Rashid Ripon.
The attack took place on July 1, 2016 when five armed men laid siege at the Holey Artisan Bakery for 12 hours, taking dozens of hostages and killing 22 people, including nine Italians, seven Japanese and the 19-year-old Indian student Jain, who was studying in the University of California, Berkeley.
Tarishi Jain’s last phone call to her family was: “I am hiding with friends in the toilet, I think we will be killed one by one.” She had also called her father, who was in Bangladesh at the time, and her uncle in Uttar Pradesh.
A frantic message by her sister Saloni on Twitter handle @15saloni2626 read: “Plzzzz save my sister…. Aj k dhaka kand m wahan meri sister bhi h…. Uska naam TARISHI JAIN h…. ???? plzzz everyone pray for her ?????.”
One of the convicts, Md Abdus Sabur Khan, is also known by three other names — Sohel Mahfuz alias Hatkata Mahfuz alias Nasullah — in India and Bangladesh. Arrested in 2017, Sabur Khan had smuggled bomb-making materials and arms used in the cafe attack.
Sabur Khan is also one of the founding members of JMB. In India, he is wanted by the National Investigation Agency for the blast at Khagragarh in Burdwan district of West Bengal on October 2, 2014. He had lost a hand while making bombs and thereafter earned the title of ‘Hatkata’. He had managed to evade arrest for almost two decades.
The judge read out the judgment amid tight security in the presence of the convicts.
Speaking after the verdict was delivered, public prosecutor Golam Sarwar Khan said the charges against the accused were proved beyond any doubt. “The court gave them the highest punishment,” the prosecutor said.
The seven JMB terrorists were convicted for conspiring and carrying out the terror attack on July 1, 2016 in Dhaka’s diplomatic upscale market in Gulshan area.
Armed with assault rifles and machetes, the attackers opened fire and took people, mostly foreigners, hostage at gunpoint. Most of the foreign nationals were shot or hacked to death by the terrorists in the 12-hour stand-off before Bangladesh army commandos stormed the building and rescued 13 hostages, killing all the five militants involved in the attack.
A total of 22 people — nine Italians, seven Japanese, one Indian, a Bangladesh-born American and two Bangladeshis along with two police officers — were killed before the army men neutralised the terrorists.
The five slain terrorists were identified as Nibrash Islam, Mir Sabeh Mubashir, Rohan Ibne Imtiaz, Khairul Islam Payel and Shafiqul Islam Uzzal.
During probe, it was found that a total 21 people were involved in the attack. Five of them were killed on the spot, while eight were gunned down in an anti-terror drive launched by the Bangladesh government.
The police investigation stated that the terrorists carried out the attack to create pressure on the Bangladesh government to force investors and foreigners out of the country. They wanted to kill foreigners to get international spotlight in a bid to put their terror outfit on the global list of terror organisations.
Initially, the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the cafe attack, but Bangladesh government refuted their claims and asserted that local terror group JMB was behind the attack.