‘Gunfight’ or ‘crossfire’ hurts non-party people


Nine of the 15 people wounded in the so-called crossfire or gunfight with the police over the past month are not active workers of any political party.

The victims, an investigation shows, include day labourers, shopkeepers, vendors, an expatriate Bangladeshi and a university student.

The legs of three of the people were amputated after they had been admitted to hospital.

At least 19 people were killed in the so-called gunfights with the police in the 26 days from 21 January till Monday, according to newspaper reports.

The wounded persons and their families complain, the police, without any charges, shot them in their legs from point blank range.

After shooting them, the police even implicated them in cases of acts of sabotage. In all these incidents, the police maintained that it was either a gunfight or an act of sabotage.

The police claim the law enforcers were attacked when they tried to obstruct violence and the police men were forced to open fire.

Crossfire, gunfights and shooting innocent people are nothing new. However, this such extra-judicial killing gained a new dimension after the BNP-led 20 party alliance lauched the latest spate of demonstration — continuous blockade and occasional hartal – since 6 January.

Although 19 deaths were recorded, there are no accurate records of how many persons were injured in this manner. Prothom Alo could only take account of these who were admitted to the government hospital in Dhaka after being shot.

Their statements do not tally with those of the police.

In the case of these 15, it was observed that the police shot them at close range and only in the legs.

Mukhlesur Rahman, Additional IG of Police (Administration and Operations), said to Prothom Alo, “The police carry out their duties in keeping with the law. If any one violates the law, there is provision to take measures against him. Action is taken accordingly.”

Human rights activist Noor Khan told Prothom Alo, he had spoken to persons injured in the police firing and found that many of them were not involved in politics at all. They included day labourers, drivers, students and businessmen. From their wounds it was evident that they were shot at close range. This was an extreme violation of human rights.

University student shot: Nayan Basar, a third year philosophy student of Jagannath University, was wounded when the police opened fire in front of Victoria Park in Old Dhaka on 4 February. He is being treated under police guard at the orthopedics hospital.

Nayan said, on 4 February he had just finished his tuition work and boarded a bus in front of Victoria Park to go to Mirhazaribagh. The bus was suddenly set on fire and he quickly got out of the bus, only to be caught by the police. The police demanded to know if he was of Jamaat-Shibir. He replied his name is Nayan Basar and he is a Hindu. The plainclothes policeman then shot him at point blank range in the legs.

Nayan’s mother Shikha Rani lives in Bagerhat. She came to Dhaka upon hearing of her son being shot. She told Prothom Alo, her son wants to be relieved of these fabricated charges brought about by the police. Office-in-charge (OC) of the Kotwali police station, Abul Hasan, claims that the police had caught Nayan red-handed when he set fire to the bus. He said Nayan attacked them and they recovered a weapon in this possession. He was a Chhatra Dal activist.

Nayan lives in a mess at Mirhazaribagh. The local grocery shopkeepers there said they know Nayan and had never seen him in any procession.

Driver Nasir: Laguna driver Nasir Uddin was shot and injured last Friday at the Shibbari crossroads in Gazipur. Inspector Mahfuzur Rahman of the Joydebpur police station said, the police shot him as he was hurling a petrol bomb. He had a knife in his possession. However, his father Abdus Samad toldProthom Alo, the police picked his son up from the streets and shot him. There were no cases against Nasir and he is not known to be affiliated with nay political party.

Two friends shot: Paan (bettle leaf) shopkeeper Mehedi Hasan (20) and his friend, bus driver’s helper Sharif Molla (19) were wounded when police opened fire last Wednesday at Bagera of Muktagachha, Mymensingh. They were brought to the orthopedic hospital where one of Sharif’s legs was amputated. The doctors said Mehedi will also have to lose one of his legs.

Mehedi Hasan’s father Selim Uddin said, he lives with his family at the Jamtola corner of Kotwali thana, Mymensingh. Mehdi works with him in his paan shop and is not involved in politics. Speaking to local people and Mehdi’s family at Jamtola and Sharif’s family at Tinkona Pukurpar in Mymensingh yesterday, it was learnt that Sharif was a bus driver’s helper. He would occasionally join BNP processions, but Mehdi never joined any procession.

Faruk shot two days after being nabbed: On 3 February, day labourer Faruk Hossain (30) was picked up by police from his father-in-law’s house in Budhhata. Two days later, his family says, he was taken to Chhoygram of the upazila and shot in the legs. He is in the prison ward at the orthopedic hospital. His family says he is not an activist of any party.

Speaking in hospital on Saturday, Faruk told Prothom Alo that there were no cases against him in any police station in Satkhira. If there was no work in Satkhira, he would come to Dhaka and work as a rickshaw-puller. He said, “On the night of 3 February, detective branch (DB) police took me from my father-in-law’s house to the DB office. After keeping me locked up for two days, they said, ‘we are going to shoot you.’ After midnight they put me in handcuffs, and drove me about a kilometre and a half away to Chhoygram in Satkhira. They then blindfolded me. The police then said, ‘call upon Allah,’ and then they shot me in the knees.”

They then drove him to Satkhira hospital. Two days later they sent him to the Satkhira central jail and then Dhaka central jail. After he was brought to the orthopedic hospital, his leg was amputated.

Golam Rahman, OC of Satkhira police stations, said, “The police carried out an operation on 5 January when robbers had thrown a tree trunk across the Satkhira-Jessore road at Chhoygoria, planning a heist. The robbers opened fire and the police opened a counter attack. Faruk was shot in this encounter. He has been charged with assaulting the police and attempted robbery.”

Shopkeeper Ataur caught and shot: Ataur Rahman (25) was wounded when police shot him on 11 February at the Biddyut lane in Jatrabari, Dhaka. He is under treatment at Dhaka Medical College Hospital. Ataur said, “I have an embroidery shop in the Deen Mohammed Supermarket in Jatrabari. I went to Jatrabari that night to collect some debts. I squatted to urinate by the roadside near the Ilisha Paribahan bus counter, when 30 to 40 young men came up and said, ‘so this is where you are.’ They beat me up and told the police, ‘he threw a cocktail at a bus.’ The Jatrabari police then just shot me in the legs.”

Jatrabari OC Oboni Shankar Kar claims that miscreants had launched an attack on the police while setting fire to a BRTC bus. Ataur was shot in the legs when the police fired back in retaliation.

‘Tokai’ Zakir: ‘Tokai’ Zakir Hossain (18) was shot and wounded by police behind Rumana factory in Jatrabari. Zakir said he had been collecting waste paper when he found a small tobacco (zarda) container. He picked it up and the police shot him in the legs. The Jatrabari OC said he was shot when fleeing after throwing a cocktail.

Expatriate worker shot: Late 21 January night, police picked up Mohinuddin from his village home in Latifpur of Chandraganj thana, Laxmipur. Mohinuddin is an expatriate worker in Saudi Arabia. The police then took him a little distance and shot him in the legs. He is undergoing treatment at the orthopedic hospital now.

Mohinuddin says there is no case or general diary (GD) against him in the police station. He is not involved in politics. Even so, the police shot him in the knees. They even filed a case against him. His wife Fatima Begum told Prothom Alo, deep at night on 21 January the police nabbed Mohinuddin for no reason. They took his motorbike away and haven’t returned it. They took him to some distance and shot him in the legs.

The local people said that he had returned from abroad about a year ago. He had been a BNP supporter before going abroad.

Laxmipur district police super Shah Mizan Shafiur Rahman said, Mohinuddin was a member of the Zeeshan force. There are 12 cases against him, including a murder case. Chandraganj OC Humayun Kabir said, when the police went on an operation to Latifpur, they opened fire on the police. When the police opened counter fire, Mohinuddin was wounded.

Businessman Momen: City Gold businessman Abdul Momen (39) was wounded when police shot him in Bangabazar of Old Dhaka in 7 February. He was riding a motorbike with his friend Abdur Rahman who lives in Singapore. Police shot and wounded him at the Bangabazar intersection.

Shahbagh OC Sirajul Islam said he was shot while trying to flee after hurling a cocktail bomb.

Shot because of ‘arson’: Shah Mohammed Salman (28), who sells toys on the footpath, was shot and wounded by police in front of Cambrian College in Badda on 2 February. Under treatment at Dhaka Medical College Hospital, Salman said he was on a bus when the vehicle was set on fire. He quickly rushed out of the bus, only to be caught by police who accused him of arson. They shot him in the legs. Salman’s mother Halima Begum said that he son was not involved in politics.

Badda OC MA Jalil said he was shot while setting fire to the bus.

Several others were similarly shot and are under treatment in various hospitals.

Source: Prothom Alo