David Bergman and Taib Ahmed
On Tuesday night, Akhter Ali, 42, was sitting in the doorway of a small room in the parking space of a block of flats located in Sector 3, Uttara.
It was nearly 9.30pm, and he was cutting vegetables for his evening meal.
For the last three months Akhter had worked as one of the two caretakers to the building where four flats had been built. It had been a routine life as a caretaker in Uttara until then.
As he peeled vegetables, a few people entered the parking space through a small opening of the large security gates.
‘I challenged them and asked what they wanted, but they shouted back, “Shut up. Don’t say anything. We are from the detective branch,’’ Akhter Ali told New Age on Saturday night at the building where it happened.
‘They pulled up their shirts and showed their detective branch badge attached to their belts, and I could also see two pistols,’ he said.
‘I pleaded with the men and said that I was a poor man. “I don’t know anything, don’t harm me.” They gave me two slaps and told me to sit down.’
Two of the men, who were all in plain clothes, stayed on the ground floor with Akhter, and the remaning three or four climbed the stairs to the flats above.
‘I asked the men, “Why have you come here” and they said, “You will see later.”’
‘They said that they had information that an accused person was living on the second floor,’ the caretaker said.
After about 30 minutes, the four other law enforcers came down the stairs. Two of them were holding another man who was blindfolded.
‘I did not recognise the man at the time,’ the caretaker said, only coming to know later that he was Bangladesh Nationalist Party’s joint secretary general Salah Uddin Ahmed.
‘The piece of cloth tied round his eyes had, I think, green and red stripes. Two of the DB men were holding this man’s arms on either side, and there were another one or two men behind him. The blindfolded man did not say anything,” Akhter said.
Quite quickly, after the man was brought down the stairs, the main security doors were opened, and he was taken into one of the three microbuses that were parked outside.
‘I had not noticed the vehicles earlier, but I saw them as they drove away,’ Akhter said.
Neighbours told New Age that at that time there were also law enforcement vehicles – ‘RAB vehicles’ one man said – blocking both ends of the road.
About 30 minutes after the incident, one of the maids in the houses came down and told Akhter ‘My shahib was taken away by the police.’
The maid, that very night, locked the door to the flat and left. Akhter said he had not seen her since.
A few hours later some other men, who told Akhter that they were from the police and who also wore plain clothes, came to the flat and asked what had happened. The next day some uniformed police officers also came.
‘The uniformed men took my statement. They wrote down what I said. I told both groups of police just what I have told you, including about the men being from the detective branch. But I did not sign anything.’
Akhter told New Age that he was now worried about his own situation.
‘I am very anxious. I never saw such an incident before. I have never fallen into such a trap,’ he told New Age.
When asked why he had not left the job, he said: ‘If I were to leave this place, it would cause problems. It would create some doubt about me.’
‘I have not taken a full meal since the incident. I don’t sleep well,’ he said. ‘Though, no one has threatened me.’
All law enforcement authorities deny any involvement in Salah Uddin’s detention. ‘Special Branch, CID, RAB, DMP and police headquarters all say that they were not involved in detaining Salah Uddin, and that they are looking for him now,’ the Attorney General Mahbubey Alam told the High Court on Sunday.
In court, the Attorney General read out a report from Uttara West police station which stated that Akhter Ali, the caretaker, had told the police that ‘relatives’ had come to the flat on Wednesday, 11 March, and taken a man, whom he knew as Haider, from the flat, and that law enforcement officials were not involved.
Source: New Age