Canadian national television CBC’s investigative report on SHMB Noor Chowdhury, the self-confessed and convicted killer of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, raises new hope in Dhaka’s effort to bring him back.
“This will provoke their (lawmakers) thoughts,” State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam told Dhaka Tribune on Sunday.
“I hope they will understand how much pain we have to go through. Its legal and emotional value to 17 crore people is priceless,” he said. “We were confident (about Noor’s whereabouts); that’s why we have filed a case in Canadian court.”
The 42-minute report, titled “Why the killer of Bangladesh’s first president is free in Canada”, was aired at 8am on Saturday on CBC Television’s popular investigative segment “The Fifth State”.
The episode explored the circumstances of the Noor Chowdhury case and included interviews with numerous prominent figures, including Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the High Commissioner of Bangladesh in Canada, Dr Khalilur Rahman, and other individuals involved in the case.
Noor Chowdhury was said to be living in a condo in Etobicoke, Toronto, and was filmed tending to plants on his balcony, but fled when confronted by the journalist outside his residence.
The Canadian government, including Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), refused to comment on the case.
The report highlights Noor Chowdhury’s escape to Canada, his stay there for 27 years, and his extradition process to serve his sentence for murder.
The high commissioner of Bangladesh in Ottawa said in a strong statement that, except for this one issue, Bangladesh’s relations with Canada are friendly.
“Not only as a Bangladeshi high commissioner, but as a common man of Bangladesh, I want him to be sent back to Bangladesh.”
Noor Chowdhury’s whereabouts and what he is doing are known, but no information has come forward.
The report showed a glimpse of Noor Chowdhury on the balcony of his Toronto flat. While going out with the car, the reporter caught Noor Chowdhury, who was hiding, sitting in the driving seat.
When the reporter approached to ask more about his role in the assassination, he avoided the reporter. Without saying anything, he drove fast and went away.
On August 15, 1975, the then president, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, and his family were gunned down by a group of rogue army personnel. His daughters, Sheikh Hasina and Sheikh Rehana, survived since they were overseas at the time.
Following a trial that was opened after a long hiatus, five people convicted of being involved in the killing were hanged in 2010; one person died in Zimbabwe, and six are absconding.
These six fugitives are: Abdur Rashid, Shariful Huq Dalim, M Rashed Chowdhury, SHMB Noor Chowdhury, Abdul Majed, and Risaldar Moslemuddin. An Interpol red notice was issued against them.
Of them, Noor Chowdhury is in Canada and M Rashed Chowdhury is in the US.
After the brutal killing, Noor was posted to the Bangladeshi embassy in Tehran as the second secretary, like others who were given diplomatic immunity. An indemnity ordinance was issued against any legal measures related to the killing. The ordinance was repealed after the Awami League came to power in 1996.
“This is a reflection of what we said and what we tried to do about his return. After this report in credible media like the CBC, I think it will provoke thoughts among those in Canada who are still in dilemma,” State Minister Shahriar said.
“Canada is a sensible country. They are sensible people. On this particular issue, the Canadian government must come to a sense and hand him over to us before creating further complications,” he said.
“Canada even did not give us what he was doing or what his status in Canada was when we wanted that information for filing the case. They (Canada) did not cooperate with us. It’s not desirable. It’s unfortunate,” he said.
Whether the government will make any new appeals after this CBC report, the state minister said: “It’s a state-level issue and a legal issue. But the law can be amended. After this (CBC news), some people might be convinced…if any changes come to those who saw this report.”