Lone avenger

Saad Hammadi writes about AB Siddique, who has filed cases against anyone who made derogatory comments against the Sheikh family

ex04An ardent supporter of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, AB Siddique has waged a crusade against anyone insulting her family. Since 2011, Siddique has filed 11 cases against politicians including the former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia.
Siddique, 63, hails from Kotalipara, Gopalganj and is a staunch supporter of the country’s founding President Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his party Awami League. ‘I love him wholeheartedly and cannot tolerate anyone hurting him or his family,’ says Siddique, who also claims to be a freedom fighter himself.
He was initially in the police after the liberation war but he quit his job after being mistreated by high officials for his allegiance with the Awami League, during the time of Ziaur Rahman. Since then, he says, he became a journalist.
In 2002, Siddique formed an organisation titled ‘Bangladesh Janonetry Porishad’, which he says, is in the name of Sheikh Hasina. ‘I made this organisation in her interest,’ says Siddique, who claims many party leaders are envious of his efforts and access to Gonobhaban because of his work.
In 2002, he produced a weekly publication titled ‘Aparadh Jagat’. ‘Some people allied with the [Bangladesh Nationalist Party] and working with me at the weekly formed an organisation at the time and named it Deshnetri Parishad,’ says Siddique. The organisation was named after Khaleda Zia, he says. The members of the organisation offered him the position of vice president and ‘wanted me to dispatch a press release to the media about the formation.’
But he managed to shy away. The next day Siddique went to the press club and got together all journalists who were from Gopalganj and formed ‘Bangladesh Janonetry Porishad’ and sent out a press release on June 5.
Immediately, after forming the organisation, Siddique reached Sudha Sadan residence to take the blessing of Hasina, then leader of the opposition, he says. It was difficult in the coming years to survive and sustain with the BNP in power and later the caretaker government.
Siddique and his organisation gained courage after Awami League came to power in 2009. Hence began his spree of filing defamation suits.
His first case was against Islami Oikya Jote chairman Mufti Fazlul Haque Amini on April 1, 2011, for making derogatory comments about Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. In the complaint, Siddique objected to Amini’s remark about forcing Hasina out of power. Amini died while the case was running, says Siddique, adding, ‘He was under house arrest for 18 months in the case I filed.’
His next case was against Hafizur Rahman Rana, a lecturer of mechanical engineering department of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology. Siddique accused him on April 23, 2012 for issuing death threat to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Facebook. ‘He was making direct threat to the prime minister,’ says a shocked Siddique. A Dhaka court last year sentenced Rana to seven years’ imprisonment in the case.
When the verdict was delivered, Siddique says, the prime minister invited him to Gonobhaban and verbally gave him the permission to run his organisation. Siddique’s Janonetry Porishad still does not have any official registration and says he lacks one because he has not formed a constitution.
Siddique’s third case was against BNP standing committee member Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain, for issuing death threat to Hasina while addressing a press conference at the Press Club on December 31, 2012. He filed the case in January 2013.
‘Hossain had warned my leader of the consequence of 1975 unless the demand for caretaker government is met,’ says Siddique. The court granted the BNP leader bail in the case but he is in police custody in a money laundering case.
In August 2013, Siddique filed a case against National University teacher KM Waheduzzaman for posting a derogatory status about Sheikh Hasina and her family on Facebook. The status, Siddique says, mentioned television channels portraying Sajeeb Wazed Joy as IT specialist and Saima Wazed Putul as autism specialist and with ‘the mother having a dozen and a half doctorate degrees’ made them a complete scientist family. Waheduzzaman ridiculed their work and laughed at them, says Siddique.
‘The court issued warrant the day I filed case,’ he says adding, Waheduzzaman is currently on bail.
Siddique also filed a case against Jamaat-e-Islami assistant secretary general Mujibur Rahman for issuing a death threat against Hasina unless she met demands for a caretaker government prior to the January 5, 2014 election. The case is still pending at the court while the Paltan police could not find Rahman’s trace ever since the case was lodged.
His first case against Khaleda Zia was after she threatened to rename Gopalganj district ahead of the January 5, 2014 election. Gopalganj has a history and changing the name of the district is tantamount to changing history, says Siddique. This was however, the sixth case in his mission to protect the Sheikh family.
Last September, Siddique filed another case against Zia when she said at a Puja committee programme that Awami League does not have a religion and they were destroying temples and implicating the opposition. She had also accused Awami League of implicating BNP in the seven murders at Narayanganj.
‘I filed a case against her for instigating subversion and attacking on religion,’ says Siddique, who had a hearing at the court in the case on February 17. The court has asked Shahbagh police officer in charge to verify the case by May 18.
His eighth case was when BNP senior vice president Tarique Rahman said Ziaur Rahman was the first president and not Sheikh Mujib. A week later he said Awami League is a party of ‘black sheep’ and Sheikh Hasina, the leader of them, says Siddique. In another programme, BNP acting secretary general Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said Awami League is a preacher of lies. ‘These were tarnishing for the party and the prime minister,’ he says.
Siddique has filed cases against Abdul Latif Siddique for passing derogatory comment on religion. He has also filed a case against former land state minister Abdul Mannan Khan for using goons to destroy a stage with the portrait of Abdul Mannan Khan. ‘Khan was mad because he was not invited at the programme,’ he says.
His last case was against Khaleda Zia and senior leaders of BNP for instigating violence across the country and killing 42 people using petrol bombs.
Siddique says, he would continue filing cases against anyone ridiculing the family of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

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