by David Bergman
Salah Uddin Ahmed, a joint general secretary of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, who has been missing since he was allegedly picked up by law enforcement agencies on 10 March, just over two months ago, has been located in the Institute of Mental Health & Neurosciences Hospital in Shillong in the Indian state of Meghalaya.
His wife told me that she received a call from the hospital this morning, and spoke to her husband. She says that he told her that ‘I am alive’, that she should meet Khaleda Zia and and that she should tell the media what has happened.
According to media reports, the Police in Meghalaya say they arrested Salah Uddin Ahmed from Golf Links in capital Shillong late on Monday, that he was hospitalised and that it appeared to be a case of illegal trespass into Indian territory without valid travel documents.
So what do we make of this? Here are three initials things to know.
First of all this is very similar to what happened to Sukhranjan Bali.
Bali was a witness at the International Crimes Tribunal who was picked up on 5 February 2012, from outside the International Crimes Tribunal on the morning he hoped to give evidence on behalf of Delwar Hossain Sayedee. His defense lawyers claimed at the time that law enforcement officials who introduced themselves as from the detective branch took him.
Seven months later, New Age revealed that he was detained in an Indian jail. In a statement he gave from the jail which was reported in the paper, he said that he was picked up and kept for six weeks in a place that he thought was a detective branch office when he was then driven to the border of India and pushed over from where he was arrested for illegal entry. The article reads:
Bali’s statement goes on to state that having been kept by Bangladesh law enforcing agencies for about six weeks, on December 23, 2012 he was blindfolded and taken by the Bangladesh police to the border and handed him over to India’s Border Security Force.
“They stopped the car in Magura at a hotel to provide me with food. They removed the blindfold and I found out that I was brought there in a private car. After I finished my meal, I was again blindfolded and we were driving again and they finally handed me over to the BSF about 5:00pm and then they left,” he says in his statement.
Bali says that he was harshly treated by the Border Security Force.
It seems that that the law enforcement authorities have used a similar modus operandi in this case.
Secondly, I doubt that we will know the truth about what happened to Salah Uddin whilst the Awami League is in power.
Though there can be no doubt that on 10 March Salah Uddin was taken by anyone other than the law enforcement authorities, pieces of the jigsaw remain missing – and it seems unlikely that Salah Uddin himself will will speak publicly. His wife said today that all she is concerned is that he is alive, and I am sure that there is an implicit/explicit deal that Salah Uddin has been allowed to live as long as he does not speak publicly about what happened to him. Moreover, of course, he may well find himself holed up in an Indian jail for sometime (on charges of illegal entry), with the prospect if he is sent back to Bangladesh he will be arrested on various cases against him.
And thirdly, this is how government’s get away time and again with these kinds of abduction. Fear. Along of course with supine human rights organizations, a quiescent civil society and a silent and compromised international community.