The High Court on Thursday asked the government and the police to explain why they should not be directed to find out Bangladesh Nationalist Party joint secretary general Salah Uddin Ahmed and bring him to the court on March 15.
The bench of Justice Quamrul Islam Siddiqui and Justice Gobinda Chandra Tagore passed the order after hearing a petition filed by Salah Uddin’s wife Hasina Ahmed.
Salah Uddin remained untraced since he was picked up allegedly by law enforcers from a house of a relative at Uttara in the city about 10:00pm on Tuesday. The police continued to deny they have picked him up but said they were looking into the matter.
The court asked the secretary to the home ministry, inspector general of police, Dhaka Metropolitan Police commissioner, Rapid Action Battalion director general and additional inspectors general of police of Criminal Investigation Department and Special Branch and Dhaka deputy commissioner to submit the explanations to the court on March 15.
The petitioner’s lawyer Khandker Mahbub Hossain told the court that Salah Uddin, also a former state minister, remained untraced after being picked up by law enforcers from a house in Uttara about 10:00pm on Tuesday.
The lawyer said that Salah Uddin’s wife went to Uttara and Gulshan police stations to file a general diary about her husband going missing but the police refused to record her complaint.
‘How a man could remain missing after being picked up by law enforcers,’ Khandker Mahbub asked the court fearing that Salah Uddin ‘might be killed’ if the court did not pass necessary orders to ‘save his life’.
He said that it was the government’s responsibility to find a missing man out and the court was empowered under Section 491 (A) of Code of the Criminal Procedure to pass directives to trace a missing man and bring him to the court.
Attorney general Mahbubey Alam opposed any ruling on the matter saying that he had talked to the inspector general of police who told him that the police had not arrested or picked up Salah Uddin.
As Salah Uddin was not in police custody, the court should not ask the government to produce him before the court, he added.
Referring to many collaborators’ going into hiding immediately after the liberation war in 1971, Mahbubey Alam said that Salah Uddin might have disappeared voluntarily with an aim to embarrass the government. ‘It is the same Salah Uddin who issued press releases from an unknown place to the media announcing hartals and there might be conspiracies behind his going missing,’ he added.
As the judges said that the government should tell the court in affidavit by Sunday whether Salah Uddin has been arrested or not, Mahbubey Alam sought adjournment of the hearing until March 15 saying he would again talk to the government authorities and inform the court if there was any development.
Moudud Ahmed, another lawyer of the petitioner, told the court who would take the responsibility if Salah Uddin was killed in the meantime.
Salah Uddin’s wife Hasina Ahmed in a press conference on the Supreme Court premises demanded immediate return of her husband ‘unhurt.’
‘How can it be possible that someone would be picked up like this and nobody would raise a voice…,’ she said.
Besides the family members, a number of neighbours who said they had witnessed the incident, told New Age that ‘armed people’ identifying themselves as Detective Branch officials had picked up Salah Uddin blindfolded from the house at about 10:15pm on Tuesday. ‘Four or five men entered the building with firearms.’
‘I asked them, “What do you want here?” They beat me and said, “You will know it later on”. They also brandished their guns. They went straight to the first floor of [the three storied] building, stayed there for about 20 minutes and returned with him [Salah Uddin] blindfolded,’ security guard Akhtarul Islam told New Age on Thursday.
According to him, Salah Uddin had taken shelter at the rented house of a relative, who is a banker, some four days before his arrest.
Talking to New Age, a number of security guards in the area said that they had seen several vehicles coming to Road 13/B at Sector 3 on Tuesday night.
The police, meanwhile, examined the CCTV recording at a house nearby.
The Uttara West police station office-in-charge Rafiqul Islam said that they were looking into the matter.
‘We are hunting for the person at whose house Salah Uddin took shelter, to have an idea of what had happened on that night,’ he said.
New Age correspondent in Cox’s Bazar reported that BNP on Thursday called a dawn-to-dusk hartal in Salah Uddin’s home district, to press for producing him before the court immediately.
Source: New Age