A least 11 opposition activists fell victims of unlawful killings since the political crisis began according to accounts of the families and rights forums. In some of the cases, according to the accounts of the police and Rapid Action Battalion the opposition activists were killed in gunfights at different places where they were taken after they had been picked up to ‘recover more arms’ or to ‘arrest their associates.’ Victims’ families and rights activists dispute the police and RAB accounts saying they were similarly worded statements relating to many incidents.
In January, 17 persons became victims of extra judicial killings, 12 of them died in cross fire, according to human rights organization Odhikar. In first four days of the current month four people were killed, two each allegedly by RAB and the police. In the early hours of Wednesday RAB gunned down two young men near the Kether Pool at Jatrabari and later called them pickets. RAB spokesman Mufti Mahmud Khan said a RAB patrol car was pelted stones at Kattherpool area around 2 AM on Wednesday. He said that when the RAB patrol car slowed down, a petrol bomb was lobbed at it. Later, he said, RAB personnel retaliated when they got off the patrol car and were fired upon. According to Jessore police accounts, M Yusuf and Mohammad Liton, both Juba Dal activists were killed at Monirampur run over by a truck when the victims allegedly attempted to throw a petrol bomb on it.
But families of the two victims said that the police had earlier picked up Yusuf of Taherpur and Liton of Durgapur under Monirampur upazila and both died in custody. On Friday, the body of Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal leader Ariful Islam Mukul was recovered at Rupnagar in the capital, 15 hours after his family said he had been picked up by detectives from Sadarghat. Arif, joint secretary of Charfashion unit of JCD was picked from the launch he had board to go to Bhola, on way to Char Fashion, a JCD central committee press release said. His family said Arif’s body, lying at DMCH morgue on Monday, bore bullet holes on the chest and abdomen.
Jurist and rights campaigner Shahdeen Malik told New Age that Bangladesh entered a violent phase with people being burnt to death and deaths in the hands of law enforcement agencies becoming daily occurrences.
On the midnight of Sunday, Emdad Ullah, first year honours student of Dhaka College and a ward unit president of Islami Chattra Shibir, was killed in an alleged ‘encounter’ with a police squad from the Mirpur police station, at Rupnagar in the capital. But his family said that Emdad was picked up by the police on Saturday evening. The body of one more victim found at Rupnagar remained unidentified since Tuesday,
On January 28, Jamaat leader and Rajshahi Islamia College lecturer Nurul Islam Shaheen was killed in Rajshahi City in ‘gunfight’ with the Detective Branch of police. His family said Shaheen was picked up by DB earlier on the same day.
The death of Asadullah Tuhin, an ICS local leader at Chapainawabganj in the early hours of Tuesday was caused in ‘traffic accident,’ according to RAB. But his family said Tuhin died in the custody of the RAB after he was taken on a crude bomb recovery drive. Tuhin’s mother Kamola Begum said that RAB had picked up her son at midnight and killed him and cooked up the accident story to cover it up.
In mid January, three JCD activists were picked up separately by RAB and police who later said they died in gunfights. On January 16, the first recently reported incident of unlawful killing took place in Chapainawabganj when 22-year old JCD leader Matiur Rahman was killed in alleged ‘gunfight’ with RAB. RAB said that it took Matiur Rhaman on a a drive to recover crude bombs when the gunfight took place at Kansat Bazaar. His family said that Mati was picked up and killed by RAB.
According to a similar account given by Dhaka Metropolitan Police’s DB unit said JCD leader Nuruzzman Johny died in ‘shootout’ at Khilgaon in the city. Jhony was picked up by DB on January 19 and he died in custody, said his family. His father Yiakub Ali said that DB picked up Jhony and another JCD activist Mainuddin from the jail gate on January 18 and he never returned since. According official police account Johny was taken by police to Jorapukur playground at Tilpapara to arrest his colleagues and Johny died in ‘shootout’ that took place there.
On the previous day, Jamaat leaning ward councilor of Narail Municipality Imrul Kayes, 35, was shot dead in the AGB colony area in the capital city. His family alleged that DB officials had picked him up from a relative’s house two days before he was killed.
Rights watchdog Ain o Salish Kendra executive director Sultana Kamal said that such unlawful killings were not acceptable under rule of law. She said that it was the responsibility of the government to ensure public safety and it must be within the bounds of the law.
At a press briefing RAB director general Benazir Ahmed said that anyone describing these deaths as ‘extra judicial killing’ were politically motivated statements.
Source: New Age