Safayat Hossain, an ex- president of Bangladesh Islami Chhatra Shibir, Mithapukur Upazila Unit of Rangpur District, was picked up by Detective Branch (DB) of Police on 26 July 2015 night from his own home. Similar to many other incidents, police have denied his arrest, leading his family members and fellow activists to fear that Shafayat Hossain may soon become another victim of ‘crossfire’. Till 27 July 2015 morning, Shafayat’s status and whereabouts are unknown.
Why fear of being ‘crossfired’?
Just months back in March 2015, Nazmul Huda Lablu, an ex-president of Islami Chhatra Shibir, Mithapukur Upazila Unit and President of Shramik Kalyan Federation, Mithapukur Upazila Unit, was killed in an alleged ‘gunfight’ with police at Mithapukur in Rangpur. The brother-in-law of the deceased, Masud, said that on March 8 at around 7:00 pm, Lablu had been picked up at gunpoint by some men in plain clothes who said they were from the law enforcement agency from his ancestral home at Shanerhat Kalanur Shahpur village under Pirganj Upazila. A day later, Labu’s dead body was recovered from a pond, on March 9 at noon, and police informed the family to take away his dead body. Nurunnabi Shah, Lablu’s father said that police had staged a ‘gunfight’ drama after killing his son in cold blood.
The General Secretary of Khilgaon Thana unit Chhatra Dal, Nuruzzaman Jony was shot dead by Detective Branch (DB) of Police near the Jorapukur playground at Khilgaon Tilpapara. According to Nuruzzaman’s family, the Detective Branch police had arrested him on January 19, 2015 from in front of the Dhaka Central Jail gate. On January 20, 2015 at around 3:00 am, Nuruzzaman was shot dead by DB police at Jorapukur playground. While describing the incident, Nuruzzaman’s father Yakub Ali stated that earlier on January 16, 2015 police had arrested his youngest son, Moniruzzaman Hira, due to which, on January 19, Nuruzzaman went to Dhaka Central Jail with another Chhatra Dal activist Moin, to see his younger brother. He last spoke to Nuruzzaman at around 1:15 pm after reaching the jail gate. After that, Nuruzzaman could not be found. On January 20 at around 8:30 am, a stranger phoned him and told him to go to the Dhaka Medical College Hospital morgue. The autopsy report mentioned that 16 bullets wounds were found on Nuruzzaman’s body.
Continuance of extrajudicial killings in Bangladesh:
According to information gathered by Odhikar, a reported total of 104 persons were killed extra judicially, between January and June 2015.
Among the 104 persons killed extra judicially, 79 were killed in ‘crossfire/encounters/gun fights’. Of them, 55 were killed by the police, 21 by the RAB, two were killed by the BGB and one by the Joint Forces. Three persons were allegedly tortured to death by the police. 16 persons were shot and killed during this period. Among them, 14 were by the police and two by the BGB. Two persons were reported beaten to death. Among the deceased, one was beaten to death by the police and one by RAB. Among the deceased, one was allegedly strangled to death by police. Two persons were killed in a road accident, as claimed by police. The victim families said that the men were picked up by police; and one person was allegedly stabbed to death by BGB.
Of the 104 persons who were killed extra-judicially, 19 were leaders-activists of BNP, 14 were activists of Jamaat-Shibir, one was a member of the Purba Banglar Communist Party, six were youths, two were drivers, one was an office employee, one was an employee of a mobile servicing centre, one was a factory worker, one was a supporter of a Upazila (local government) chairman candidate, one was a fisherman, one was a tailor, one was an owner of a motor garage, one was a security guard of a private firm, one was an accused in a murder case, five were alleged human traffickers, two were tea stall owners and 46 were alleged criminals.
Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK) said the law enforcement agencies have killed a total of 101 people in separate incidents including ‘crossfire’ in the country from January till June this year.
Same story goes on:
For a long time, the official narrative for “crossfires and encounters” have being following a worryingly familiar pattern. Thus the story goes, “after the arrest of infamous terrorist “A”, leads were found to an illegal arms location. And during a crackdown at this arms location other terrorists attacked and, in the ensuing crossfire, terrorist “A” was killed.” Such crackdowns at the alleged arm locations invariably take place in the early morning or late evening and the people living in the neighbourhood areas around these crossfire encounters are later unable to confirm having heard any gun shots. Even if they do, the sources of firing are limited to have been from the persons killed only.
There is serious and mounting concern that such incidents of “crossfire” are in fact deliberate killings.
Extra-judicial killings in numbers:
Odhikar has documented killings of total 2445 people extra-judicially by law enforcing agencies from 2001 to April 2015.
- “Crossfire”|Continued Human Rights Abuses by Bangladesh’s Rapid Action Battalion | Human Rights Watch, May 10, 2011. (https://www.hrw.org/report/2011/05/10/crossfire/continued-human-rights-abuses-bangladeshs-rapid-action-battalion)
- Judge, Jury, and Executioner |Torture and Extrajudicial Killings by Bangladesh’s Elite Security Force| Human Rights Watch, December 13. 2006. (https://www.hrw.org/report/2006/12/13/judge-jury-and-executioner/torture-and-extrajudicial-killings-bangladeshs-elite)
- In Bangladesh, a license to kill | Aljazeera| July 07, 2015 (http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2015/7/7/in-bangladesh-a-license-to-kill.html)
- RAB: Stop Terrorism or Terrorism by the State | Ain o Shalish Kendra|(http://www.askbd.org/ask/2012/10/26/rab-stop-terrorism-terrorism-state/)
 Student wing of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami.
 Labour Welfare Federation, a wing of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami.
 The daily Naya Diganta, 10/03/2015
 In the Dhaka Metropolitan area
 Student wing of Bangladesh Nationalist Party.
 The daily Prothom Alo, 21/01/2015
 Six-Months Human Rights Monitoring Reports of Odhikar (January-June 2015).