More than 17,000 people, including 300 identified ones, have been sued in at least 27 cases over a series of violent protests carried by Hefazat-e-Islam Bangladesh in several districts of the country, but no top Hefazat leaders have been accused in any of the cases.
Of the cases, nine were filed with several police stations under Dhaka Metropolitan Police, seven in Brahmanbaria, nine in Narayanganj, two in Chattogram and one in Faridpur. Over 50 people have so far been arrested across the country, according to sources at the Dhaka Metropolitan Police and the Police headquarters.
The religious advocacy group's top leaders are believed to have instigated their supporters for vandalism, attacks, and arson during the three-day violent protests, but only some petty local leaders and supporters have been named in a few cases filed in Narayanganj and Dhaka.
On 29 March, a case was filed with the Paltan police station, accusing 32 Hefazat men, including the prime accused Mufti Munir Hossain, assistant general secretary of Hefazat's Dhaka Metropolitan Committee. Police brought charges of only barricading a road and panicking the people against the accused.
On the other hand, the Rapid Action Battalion filed a case against BNP executive committee member Nipun Roy Chowdhury over charges of vandalism and setting fire to several buses in Jatrabari and Malibagh on 28 March.
RAB claimed that she had asked some other BNP supporters to vandalise and torch buses during the hartal day.
The Chattogram Metropolitan Police also arrested Metropolitan BNP Convener Shahadat Hossain Chowdhury and some other BNP leaders for bringing out a procession supporting hartal the same day.
Even, neither did police nor any other law enforcement agencies file a single case over vandalism and arson attacks in Hathazari.
Hathazari Upazila Nirbahi Officer Ruhul Amin told The Business Standard, "For tactical reasons, we have not yet filed any cases.
"We will file cases when the situation becomes normal."
At least 14 people were killed and hundreds injured and government and private properties were damaged as the Islamist group locked into sporadic clashes with law enforcement agencies from Friday to Sunday in Chattogram, Brahmanbaria, Dhaka and Narayanganj during their protests and hartal over Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bangladesh visit.
In Brahmanbaria, Hefazat activists on Sunday set fire to renowned musician Ustad Allauddin Khan's memorial and vandalised Shaheed Dhirendranath Dutta Bhasha Chattar.
AKM Shahidul Haque, former inspector general of Bangladesh Police, told TBS, "How instigators like Mamunul Haque can stay out of being sued. After being instigated by them, they even attacked policemen, journalists. They should immediately be made accused in those cases."
Dr Shahdeen Malik, senior lawyer of the Supreme Court and eminent constitution expert, told TBS, "This is another dark indication of political use of the criminal justice system. Filing cases have become more of a political weapon for the government, rather than identifying, trying and punishing the criminals."
Police filed a case against 500-600 unidentified people in connection with clashes between anti-Modi protesters and law-enforcement personnel, vandalism and arson attacks in the Baitul Mukarram National Mosque area on Friday.
However, police neither could name any Hefazat men in the case nor arrest any of the attackers.
When asked why no leaders of Islamic groups and Hefazat-e-Islam have been made accused in the case, Syed Nurul Islam, deputy commissioner of the Motijheel division of the DMP, refused to make any comment in this regard.
"We told the media earlier that after the Jummah prayers, two factions of devotees locked into a scuffle on that day. We could not identify them. Investigations are on to bring them to book, we are analysing CCTV footage," he added.
Four cases were filed with different police stations under the DMP's Wari Division.
Shah Iftekhar Ahmed, deputy commissioner of the division, told TBS, "We arrested and filed cases against those who have been identified through CCTV footage. There was no Hefazat top leader sued in these cases."
Md Alimuzzaman, superintendent of police, Faridpur, told TBS that they filed a case over vandalism and attacks with the Bhanga police station.
"No Hefazat men have been sued in the case, all accused are unnamed," he added.
When TBS asked why top Hefazat leaders have not been accused in the cases and there was even no mention of any Hefazat men in some cases, Mir Shohel Rana, assistant inspector general (media) of Police Headquarters, refused to make any comment.
Meanwhile, Md Anwar Hossain, deputy inspector general of the Chattogram Range police, said a three-member probe body has been formed to look into the incidents of Brahmanbaria.
He also said there had been more than 20 incidents of vandalism. The process of filing cases was underway.
"An expert team comprising members from the Criminal Investigation Department and the Police Bureau of Investigation has been called in. They will visit each of the spots and collect evidence," he added.
Hefazat men will be indicted in the charge sheets if their involvement is found during investigations, Anwar Hossain said.