Sahara orders probe; rights chief concerned, asks Home to turn in report on missing people
M Rahman and Shaheen Mollah
Police recovered the bodies of seven men in the last eight days amid allegations that some of them had been picked up by plain-clothes personnel prompting concern among the rights groups about such disappearances and the subsequent killings.
The bodies, some decomposing, were all recovered from Munshiganj district mostly from the Dhaleshwari river and a nearby water body, police said. The bodies had their hands and legs tied and some had bullet marks on their foreheads, police and witnesses said.
Some families of the deceased said the dead disappeared amid witnesses’ accounts that they were grabbed and whisked in microbuses by plain-clothes personnel.
Home Minister Shahara Khatun yesterday said she has directed law enforcers to investigate the “secret killings”. She told reporters at her Secretariat office yesterday, “I came to know about such killings from the newspapers. I’ve directed the law enforces to investigate.”
Human rights groups have voiced concern over the growing incidents of secret killings after the victims were picked up by unidentified men. Law enforcement agencies have denied their involvement in such incidents.
The Human Rights Commission has asked the home ministry to provide it with a report on the missing people. HRC Chairman Mizanur Rahman told the Daily Star yesterday, “We have asked the home ministry to submit a report to us regarding some missing persons. Then we will consider what steps to take.”
He added, “We will raise the issue in the HRC meeting scheduled for January 4 with due importance.”
HRC sources said it asked the home ministry to submit its report on the eight recently disappeared people by December 26.
Munshiganj Superintendent of Police Shafiqul Islam claimed that over the last eight days five bodies, not seven, were recovered in the district. The victims’ legs and hands were found tied. Cement bags were found to be tied to the bodies, he said, adding that police are investigating the matter.
Our Munshiganj correspondent adds: On Tuesday, three decomposed bodies of unidentified youths were found in the Dhaleshwari within a radius of around half a kilometre inside the Munshiganj municipality where two other floating bodies of youths were recovered only five days ago.
On Tuesday, bodies of Akter Mia, 30, of Brahmanbaria, Manjur Munshi, 42, of Faridpur, and Mamun Mia, 33, of Barisal were recovered from the Dhaleshwari. They went missing on December 7 from the Toll Plaza of Daudkandi Bridge in Comilla. They were five of a group. Monjur’s brother Yusuf and cousin Seken Matubbar, 25, are still missing.
On December 8, the body of Ismail Hossain Alamin, 33, former secretary of Ward -50 Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal unit in the capital was recovered. The other body recovered on that day could not be identified.
Ismail Hossain Alamin’s uncle Abdul Khalek told The Daily Star Alamin and two other JCD activists were picked up by plain-clothes personnel in a microbus from Hatirpul Bazar in the capital on November 28.
On December 6, Munshiganj police recovered two bodies, Alid Bepari, 37, from a water body in Molakandi union and Shamim from a toilet of a mosque at Srinagar of Munshiganj, sources said.
Relatives of missing people from Narail, Narsingdi, Patuakhali, Faridpur, Barisal and Jessore thronged the morgue at Munshiganj Sadar Hospital to identify bodies of their missing loved ones.
Sources at the morgue in Gazipur Sadar Hospital and the police said at least 30 unidentified bodies were recovered from different parts of the districts, mostly from forests over the last one year.
Of the 30, three bodies of the youths, who were picked up from city’s Dayaganj on the first day of Ramadan allegedly by the Detective Branch, were found at Pubail in Gazipur five days after they went missing.
One of the three victims was Mizan and his father Faruque Hossain yesterday said, “We don’t know who picked up my son and killed him even though we went to the doors of government agencies.”
Quoting locals he said, “While my sons and two others were forcefully taken away, locals thronged the spot and came to know that Detective Branch personnel were picking them up.”
Officer-in-Charge Zakir Hossain Mollah of Sher-e-Banglanagar Police Station said one Iqbal and Abdul Mannan have been missing since December 3. Mannan’s father-in-law Hajji Nur Mohammad, a former Dhaka City Corporation councillor of ward-41 and an Awami League leader, also disappeared on October 20 in Savar and he has been missing since then.
Police are yet to trace BNP leader and former councillor of Dhaka City Corporation ward-56 Chowdhury Alam. He has been missing since June 25, 2010.
The High Court on July 19, 2010, directed the inspector general of police and director general of Rapid Action Battalion to take effective measures immediately to find Alam.
Meanwhile, Adhikar, a local rights group, in a report said a total of 22 people were reported missing this year. It said 11 of them were allegedly picked up by Rab, two by police, six by detective police and three by unidentified people.
The Adhikar report said 18 people disappeared in 2010 and of them 14 were allegedly picked up by Rab, two by police and two by the Detective Branch.
The law enforcement agencies have denied all allegations that they picked up those people.