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Will Innocent Farazi Die in Jail in His Home Country?

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Photo: RI/OV

Riazul Islam, Rozina Islam and Hossain Abdul Hai

Bonn/Dhaka, March 20 (OurVoice): Badol Farazi is still in the jail in his home country. Nobody knows when and how he can get fair justice in his home country, if he can get rid of the false accusation and can be free or if he has to destroy his whole potentiality under the chain of the red building, as he lost 10 years in the prison in India.

As in spite of several steps taken by human rights organization Ain o Salish Kendra and other human rights defenders and several reports in Indian and Bangladeshi media outlets including Prothom Alo, Daily Star and other TV channels mentioning his innocence and false allegation, a bench of High Court division of Bangladesh is yet to come to a final decision about his bail, it is a matter of great concern of human rights defenders at home and abroad. Germany based international development organization Seraji Foundation has taken the case of Badol Farazi with serious concern and contacted Amnesty in Germany and United Kingdom to ensure justice for Farazi. The organization has also planned to launch online media campaign and stage demonstration in front of the United Nations and European Union offices in Germany, Switzerland, Belgium and The Netherlands, in case the Bangladesh government fails to provide due legal support to Farazi without any delay.

While Our Voice journalists met Farazi in the guest room in the Dhaka Central Jail, he spoke fluent English and mixed Hindi-Bengali languages. He expressed his disappointment and said, ‘I asked for the support of Bangladesh government to get rid of my imprisonment, as I never committed any crime. I also ask for the help of human rights organizations at home and abroad. I came back to my home country about eight months ago. In spite of that I see no hope to be free. As I have never committed any crime, why should I spoil my life in prison?’

While Rozina Islam met his mother Shefali Begum, she expressed her deep regret and wants her son at least once in his arm before her death. She is very sick and cannot go to the jail because of her sickness. She has only one question: when can his innocent son be free. This helpless mother wants to embrace her son at least once again.

Indian social worker Rahul Kapoor as a part of his curriculum in MA Social Work, undertook social work practice in Tihar Jail, New Delhi from July 2016 and Badol Farazi, son of Abdul Khalek Farazi. As he wrote in the Webportal named change.org, Farazi was not an Indian National and was a citizen of Bangladesh and was stuck in Tihar Jail, Delhi for last ten years. He first came to Tihar Jail on 21 July 2008.

Kapoor added in his blog, when Badol Farazi went to the Jail, he did not know English and even Hindi and this was one of the major reasons that when he was arrested from the Benapole Immigration Check Post in 2008 on charges of a murder, he was unable to explain to the authorities that he was not the person they were looking for. Since, Badol Farazi could not communicate his innocence to the authorities, he was falsely implicated for the murder of an elderly woman in Delhi by her domestic help “Badal Singh” instead of whom the person in question “Badol Farazi” was arrested. Farazi was later convicted by the session court, Saket, New Delhi under section 302 on charges of murder on August 7, 2015. The judgment was later validated by the High Court and he was sentenced to life imprisonment. He later filed a petition in the Supreme Court where his case was dismissed.

Farazi has come a long way since 2008 and has completed all his education from class eight to the graduation from the Jail premises through National Institute of Open Schooling and IGNOU programme facilities available in Tihar Jail. Now he speaks English fluently and even has a certificate of doing exceptionally well in an English speaking course from the Teach India, Times of India Campaign. He worked tirelessly inside the Tihar Jail and managed the IGNOU centre in Tihar Jail Number 3 until recently when he was shifted to the newly opened Mandoli Jail in Delhi where he still works as a Jail Seva Daar.

Throughout his imprisonment Farazi claimed his innocence that he was not even present in India when the murder took place, all his fellow prisoners and Jail authorities confirmed that he always stuck to one single story and they believed that there was a strong possibility that he spoke the truth. Apart from that, jail authorities have always praised his conduct and good behavior.

In the year 2012, the High Commission of Bangladesh wrote to the Ministry of External Affairs of India requesting the release of Farazi and claiming his innocence with strong evidences attached in his favor. A news article in the Indian Express, dated 11 October 2012 also talked about his innocence.

Rahul kapoor also met the Deputy High Commissioner of Bangladesh High Commission in India, Salahuddin Noman Chowdhury and Mosharaf Hossain, Minister (Consular), Bangladesh High Commission but they also told him that they have already written multiple times to the Indian government requesting the release of Farazi but since they have not received any reply from the Indian government, they hired a professional lawyer for him and have always helped him to fight his case first in the session court and then in the High Court. The Bangladesh high commission has also requested for the transfer of Badol Farazi to a jail in Bangladesh under the transfer of sentenced persons agreement signed between India and Bangladesh and that was too stuck somewhere in diplomatic protocols. Kapoor also wrote to the office of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi requesting his intervention in Farazi’s case so that he could live as a free man again in his own country.

The petition by Kapoor received almost 4300 signatures supporting him till 19 March 2019.

Farazi, 29, who was serving a life sentence in Delhi’s Tihar jail after being convicted in the murder case, was brought back to Bangladesh on July 6, 2018 under a bilateral treaty on “Transfer of Sentenced Prisoners” signed with India around eight years ago.

After Farazi was brought back he was sent to Dhaka Central Jail to let him serve the rest of his sentence there. According to the report, the home ministry of Bangladesh sent a letter to Indian government for the repatriation of Farazi. He was a school student when he went to India in 2008 and completed his studies and even obtained a degree during his decade-long stay in Tihar Jail.

On completion of immigration process, he was taken to police custody, sources said. He was brought back under a bilateral treaty on ‘Transfer of Sentenced Prisoners’. The treaty was signed eight years ago. Hailing from Bagerhat, Farazi had been imprisoned in high-security Tihar jail for last 10 years. Two police officials went there to escort Farazi to Dhaka by a flight of Jet Airways. Farazi’s life sentence was upheld by Delhi High Court in May 2016, and his appeal against it was rejected by Indian Supreme Court in December the same year. Later, Farazi appealed to the Indian authorities seeking repatriation under an agreement on sentenced prisoners.

Farazi entered India through Benapole check-post at India-Bangladesh border on 13 July 2008 with a valid passport and visa. Badal’s father died when he was in Indian jail and he has an ailing mother back home. An NGO in India organised two separate street marches in Delhi in March 2018 for the repatriation of Farazi and mobilised public opinion in his favour on social media.

According to the reports in Indian newspapers, Indian police were looking for one Badal Singh on charge of killing an old woman at Amar Colony in New Delhi on May 6, 2008. When Badol Farazi was entering India on July 13, 2008, he was arrested for similarity of his name with that of an accused in a murder case.

The High Court division in Bangladesh rejected a writ petition on 11 July 2018 that sought its order on the government to release Badol Farazi, who was recently brought back to the country from India after he languished in jail there for 10 years in a murder case. The HC bench of Justice JBM Hassan and Justice Md Khairul Alam passed the rejection order considering that the petition was not placed properly. Deputy Attorney General Masud Hasan Chowdhury produced some documents before the HC saying that the Indian court has convicted and sentenced Farazi in due process of law. Therefore, he cannot be released from jail, the Deputy Attorney General said.

On 7 February 2019 High Court questioned the legality of confinement of Bangladeshi citizen Badol Farazi in a local jail although his wrongful implication and conviction in a murder case in India was reported followed by his extradition. A HC bench comprising Justice F R M Nazmul Ahasan and Justice K M Kamrul Kader passed the order following a writ petition filed by rights organization Ain O Salish Kendra. The HC issued a rule asking the government authorities concerned to explain why confinement of Badol Farazi will not be declared illegal. Two Supreme Court lawyers Barrister Humayun Kabir Pallab and Barrister Kawser filed the writ petition with the HC on 8 July 2018.

In the rule, Justice F R M Nazmul Ahasan and Justice K M Kamrul Kader also wanted to know why Farazi will not be produced before their bench. The court would like to interrogate him and examine his papers to be sure as to whether he is an offender or innocent, sources said.

Chairman of Bangladesh National Human Rights Commission Kazi Reazul Hoque in February said that a team of the commission would visit India in March 2019 to collect information about the case of Badol Farazi, who was extradited to Bangladesh while serving life term imprisonment in Delhi’s Tihar jail after being convicted in a murder case.

‘The commission, being informed from media that “incorrect” accused Badol Farazi was convicted of a murder and sentenced for life by an Indian Court, has taken initiatives to ensure justice for Badal,’ he added, responding to a question in a press conference at the commission office. He said that the commission had already talked to Farazi at Dhaka Central Jail in Keraniganj to gather information and probe into the matter.

‘A team of NHRC will go to India next month and would collect information in connection with the case against him. Besides, we have contacted with the National Human Rights Commission of India so that both the commissions can help him in getting justice,’ he said.

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