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Demanding Tk 10 crore as compensation for Jaha Alam, speakers at a human chain today said the state or Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) cannot avoid the responsibility for the “cruel and inhuman behavior” to the victim. - A home for your website

The speakers also urged the government to identify the persons responsible for the whole situation so that nobody becomes victim like him.

A jute mill worker, Jaha Alam had been languishing in jail since February 2016 in corruption cases instead of the real accused. He was released from Kashimpur Central Jail-2 in Gazipur on February 4 after the High Court exonerated him from the charges on the previous day.

Sammilito Samajik Andolon (SSA) organised the human chain in front of National Museum at Dhaka’s Shahbagh intersection today demanding compensation for Jaha Alam.

Mamunur Rashid, finance secretary of the SSA, read out a written statement during the programme conducted by Saleh Ahmed, general secretary of the organisation.

“We can’t understand how a national organisation like the ACC accused Jaha Alam instead of Salek… It is urgent to find out if there was any ill-attempt to hide the real culprit. We also demand Tk 10 crore compensation for Jaha Alam immediately,” the statement read.

Speaking at the occasion, Prof Robayet Ferdous of Dhaka University said, “Despite having no similarity with the information provided, Jaha Alam was suppressed only based on the concept of similarity with the photo of the accused… Could ACC give him (Jaha Alam) back those three years he lost from his life?”

Zia Uddin Tarek Ali, president of the SSA, said, “The state and the ACC can’t avoid the responsibility for the cruel and inhuman behavior to Jaha Alam. We demand proper compensation for this. Otherwise, we will take to the streets again.”

He also urged the countrymen to raise their voice seeking justice for Jaha Alam.

Since February 2016, Jaha Alam had been languishing in jail after being falsely accused in cases filed over misappropriation of Sonali Bank’s money filed by ACC.

He was released on February 4 after the High Court exonerated him from the charges on the previous day.

Between 2010 and 2011, Abu Salek, a businessman, misappropriated about Tk 18 crore from Sonali Bank’s Cantonment branch. Salek used a fake address to open an account with the bank, the ACC said.

Salek also had an account in another private bank, ACC sources said.

In 2012, the anti-graft watchdog filed the 33 cases over the misappropriation, and Salek was made accused in most of them.

During investigation, the commission asked the banks’ officials to identify and trace Salek.

The officials informed the ACC that the address provided by Salek in his bank documents was in Tangail’s Nagarpur, ACC sources said.

The commission then summoned Salek to its office where the bank officials, including the account’s introducers, were present.

However, the man who appeared before the ACC claimed that the authorities concerned were mistaken and his name was Jaha Alam, not Abu Salek.

“To ascertain further, we sent the photo that Salek used in the bank’s Know-Your-Client form to Nagarpur’s Union Parishad chairman, who identified him as Jaha Alam,” said an investigation officer preferring anonymity.

Later, the ACC placed a charge-sheet before the court identifying him as Abu Salek alias Jaha Alam.

In 2016, Alam was arrested by police in connection with most of the cases in which Salek was accused.

Different media outlets reported that Jaha Alam said he was wrongly accused, after which the ACC investigated the matter further.

The commission found Alam’s claim to be true.

Contacted, ACC Director General Moyeedul Islam said of the 33 cases, Alam was made accused in most of them.

“We have already urged the court to exempt Jaha Alam from prosecution,” he said, adding that the process was underway.

He, however, said Salek, who was on the run, would remain as the accused in the cases.

On January 28, the HC bench passed the order in a suo moto move following a report published in the Bangla daily Prothom Alo on the day under the headline “Wrong accused in jail in 33 cases: Sir, I am Jaha Alam, not Salek.”

Supreme Court lawyer Amit Das Gupta placed the news report before the HC bench for necessary orders in this regard.

HC judges issued the summons after going through the report.

The court also gave a rule asking the authorities concerned to explain why Jaha Alam should not be acquitted of the cases in which he was not an accused, Amit told The Daily Star.

Ealier, the DG of the ACC said that the faces of Abu Salek and Jaha Alam, according to the photograph, were similar.