By David Bergman and Ahammad Foyez
Identities of 21 people killed on May 5 in the capital during clashes between law enforcement agencies and Hefajat-e-Islam activists have been confirmed by New Age following detailed inquiries in four hospitals in central Dhaka, contradicting claims by the police that only 11 people were killed.
New Age has interviewed emergency doctors and hospital administrators, obtained copies of hospital paper work, morgue records and photographs of the dead bodies, and also spoken to relatives of most of the deceased to confirm the accuracy of the information initially provided by hospitals.
Eleven of the names involve bodies taken to Dhaka College Medical Hospital, one of which includes police
sub-inspector Md Shahjahan who is said to have been beaten to death.
The DMCH deaths are the only deaths which the police authorities acknowledge took place that night.
At a media briefing on May 8, the Dhaka Metropolitan Police commissioner, Benazir Ahmed, said that only 11 people, including a police officer, had died in Dhaka on May 5 and 6.
‘So far we have discovered from this place 11 people including one policeman,’ Md Masuder Rahman, the media and public relations officer of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police, confirmed to New Age this week.
‘We contacted the DCMH. If there are any severely injured people, they normally go to the DCMH. There are other hospitals but we don’t know that people have died there. The private hospitals did not inform us,’ he said.
New Age has, however, confirmed 10 more deaths in two private hospitals — 5 at Islamic Bank Hospital at Kakrail and five more at Baraka Hospital at Rajarbagh.
New Age has the contact addresses of families related to 19 of the 21 deaths that it has identified.
The identified deaths do not include the deaths that occurred outside Dhaka in Narayanganj and elsewhere in the country which were linked to Hefajat protests.
In addition to the 21 deaths, there are three additional deaths — an unidentified body at the DCMH morgue and the deaths of Hafez Moazzemul Huq Nannu and of journalist Nazrul Islam who are reported by the rights organisation Odhikar to have died from their injuries at Lalmatia Al-Manar Hospital and at DCMH respectively, bringing the total of known deaths to 24.
There may also be six additional deaths. Multiple sources at Islamic Bank Hospital at Shahjahanpur have confirmed to New Age that six bodies were brought to their hospital and confirmed dead although no details were kept of their names.
CCTV footage seen by New Age supports the contention of doctors and administrators that at least three people died in that hospital on the evening of May 5.
Whilst these six bodies may be in addition to the other 24 known deaths, which could bring the total number of deaths to 30, it is more likely that the bodies of these unnamed men are amongst the 11 DCMH bodies.
This is because it appears that the bodies were taken by their friends from the private hospital to the Motijheel area from where they were later collected by the police and taken to the DCMH.
Hefajat and the BNP have claimed that hundreds of people died in the police operation that took place in the morning of November 6 to clear the city area of the Hefajat supporters.
Only one of the deaths in the private hospitals — at Islamic Bank Hospital at Kakrail — is, however, reported by one doctor as arriving at the hospital after 2:00pm on May 6, which is when the operation to clear the city is said to have begun.
New Age has spoken to relatives linked to eight of the 12 deaths registered at the DMCH — with all but one of them saying that there were bullet wounds on the bodies which they recovered from the hospital. Post-mortem examination reports have not yet been finalised on these men.
Relatives of three of them have confirmed that they were present that day to take part in the Hefajat rally: 28-year-old engineering student Raihan Hasan, 38-year-old madrassah teacher Md Yunus from Comilla, and 36-year-old Deen Islam from Munshiganj. In addition, a relative of 30-year-old Alamin from Faridpur said that he was a madrassah student but could not confirm whether he went to the march.
Relatives of two other men that died that day, however, said that they had nothing to do with the march — 40-year-old businessman Kazi Rakibul Huq who went to the area to buy medicines and Alamgir Hossain who ran a teashop at Dhupkhola in the capital Dhaka.
In two other cases, involving the deaths of Akbar Hossain who worked in an apparel shop close to Baitul Mukarram and of journalist Reza from Chapainawaganj, the relatives were uncertain about the reason why their family member was present at the protest.
New Age was unable to contact the families of 45-year-old Maulana Abdul Molla or 21-year-old Nahid whose names were also in the morgue records.
Islamic Bank Hospital at Kakrail has provided details of five of the six men which included a 15-year-old boy, Md Muktar Hossain, from Narsingdi who were pronounced dead at the hospital.
Dr SM Moinul Hossain, an emergency medical officer, said that he had seen the dead body of one man who was brought to the hospital in the early afternoon. ‘He had a bullet injury in the left side of his lungs. He had no vital signs when he came to me.’ Through a picture, he identified him as Maulana Shamsul Alam from Gazipur
Another emergency doctor who took over from Moinul Hossain was Hasnat Rabi. ‘I saw five dead bodies. All of them had gunshot injuries of some kind. More than one was in the head,’ he told New Age.
Apart from one, who died on the operating table, all of the bodies that arrived at the hospital were dead on arrival, other hospital officials said.
The brother of 23-year-old Saddam Hussein, one of those who died at Islami Bank Hospital, confirmed that Saddam was a madrassah student. ‘We saw bullet wounds in the head,’ he said but admitted that there was no post-mortem examination done.
‘We had been searching for him since Thursday at different police stations and hospitals but took the body from Islamic Bank Hospital on Friday,’ his brother Tariqul Islam said.
The sister of 20-year-old Qari Saidul Islam, who died from injuries suffered in the protest, told New Age that her brother was a student of Mohamadpur Madrassah and that when his body was collected from the hospital, he had ‘injuries in the head, mouth and several other places on his body.’
Hospital authorities also provided the names and addresses of one other person who was declared dead — Maulana Mahammad Hasan, a madrassah teacher in Narayanganj — but it was not possible to contact his family.
One other body, which no family collected, was sent to the Dhaka Medical College Hospital morgue.
On May 8, New Age reported on identities of five of the six men declared dead at Rajarbagh-based Baraka Hospital, which doctors said had bullet wounds in their head.
Another person’s body, that was unnamed at the time, was sent from Baraka Hospital to the DMCH.
Adilur Rahman, the secretary of rights organisation Odhikar called for an independent inquiry of the allegations of what took place on the May 5 and 6. ‘The inquiry should look into the whole situation and the number of deaths and injuries and whether law enforcement agencies acted beyond their legal responsibilities,’ he said.
Source: New Age