Excellent piece of reporting by my colleague Muktadir Rashid at New Age, who interviewed members of the security committee and residents in Sector 3 of Uttara in Dhaka about what happened on the night of 10 March, when BNP Joint Secretary, and till then spokesperson of the party, went missing, and was allegedly picked up by law enforcement agencies. The article is published in New Age today, and the relevant parts are reproduced below.
This report should be read alongside the interview of the caretaker of the building which was also published in New Age, a few days back
To read about 19 BNP activists picked by and disappeared in December 2013, over a two week period, click here
Wife worried, says law enforcers not cooperating
….. Meanwhile, more witness accounts said that ‘uniformed’ Rapid Action Battalion personnel had asked security guards working in Rajlakkhi neighbourhood at Uttara about the location of road 13/B in Sector 3 on the night Salah Uddin had gone missing.
Residents in the area also told New Age they had seen a double-cabin van marked ‘Dhaka Metropolitan Police’ and a white ‘Noah’ microbus parked at the southern end of the 70-metre long 13/B road.
Salah Uddin’s wife Hasina Ahmed alleged that her husband was picked up around 10:00pm on March 10 by law enforcers from the second floor of a three-storey building located on the road. Until his disappearance, Salah Uddin, a former minister, had worked as the spokesperson of the BNP-led alliance.
The police and RAB have denied involvement in the incident, and gave statements to the High Court denying that the opposition leader was in their custody. Earlier, a caretaker of the building had said a man was taken away blindfolded by plainclothes people who showed him their Detective Branch identification. …..
New Age spoke to seven witnesses, including local security guards, and the residents confirmed the presence of law enforcers on road 13B on the night of March 10. ‘It was between 9:00pm and 9:15pm on that night [March 10] when a patrol-van carrying RAB personnel stopped in front of the Kalyan Samity office,’ a middle-aged security guard, who has been serving the welfare association for many years, told New Age.
The local welfare association, Kalyan Samity, provides security on 18 roads and 21 entrances to Sector 3, with all but four gates remaining closed after 9:00pm every day. At these four gates, private security guards are on duty.
‘I greeted them and one of them asked me about the location of road 13/B,’ the security guard added. ‘I showed them the way and they drove in that direction. Four or five men in uniform were in the rear of the black pickup while two were in front.’ Two more security guards confirmed what their colleague had said.
When asked, RAB-1 commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel Tuhin Mohammad Masud told New Age on Tuesday, ‘I did not send anyone there [road 13/B].’
In addition, local residents, who usually play or watch badminton matches in the area until about 11:00pm, also told New Age that they had seen law enforcers’ vehicles on that night.
‘A security guard of the association approached us and asked us to leave the place immediately,’ one resident said. ‘We followed his instruction. I then saw a white vehicle driving towards the southern end of the road while another police pickup entered the northern end.’ ‘The pickup had the mark “Dhaka Metropolitan Police” on one side,’ the witness said.
Another resident told New Age, ‘A security guard approached us and asked us to leave the place. “Leave the place… there might be trouble”, he told us.’ ‘From upstairs I saw men come out of their vehicles parked on the street,’ the person continued. ‘A few of them got down from the Noah microbus and were chatting. There was a motorcycle too.’
The witness, however, did not see any person being taken away but said one of the two vehicles was kept parked on the road until the following evening. A third resident from north edge of road 13/B also told New Age that three to four people had approached him and asked whether that was building number 49/B.
Posted by David Bergman