FEATURE: A father’s cry continues in vain
DHAKA (The Daily Star/ANN) - The case of a person missing in Dhaka since one year.
Over a house in the capital’s Mirpur area, a banner hangs reading: some men in civilian clothes introducing themselves as law enforcers abducted Mohan Miah on June 10, 2018.
The house belongs to Jamsher Ali, who has been looking for his son for almost a year now.
Mohan was picked up in front of many people on the night of June 10 and three CCTV cameras captured some parts of the incident.
One of the CCTV clips shows five to six men in civilian clothes near the house in Mirpur-2. Two others came on a motorcycle, made Mohan sit between them and sped away.
In the same footage, Mohan’s father Jamsher then appeared to talk with some people, who in another clip got on a microbus parked a little far from the spot. He had walked with them up to the microbus.
Jamsher said he was present at the scene and he talked to the “plainclothes” men. When he asked them why his son was being picked up, they claimed “there was a complaint against Mohan”.
Afterwards, allegations of the involvement of men belonging to Rapid Action Battalion also arose. Jamsher claimed to have evidence to prove their involvement.
The elite force vehemently denies the allegation.
Mohan, who used to run a small shop, remains missing till date. His father, who has tried everything to find him, alleged that police were not even interested in investigating the incident.
“If my son had committed any crime…if he was killed, please return his body. At least I could cry and say that I have buried him,” said the 67-year-old, expressing his utter helplessness.
Jamsher said about ten days after the abduction, a man named Hafizur Rahman, claiming to be a Rab-4 officer, went to his house and told them that Mohan was in custody of the elite force.
On the first day, the desperate father gave Hafizur some money and medicines for his son.
The next day, Hafizur returned, this time with a letter apparently written by Mohan to his wife. The letter read Mohan was in confinement and being tortured in custody.
“I can bet that the handwriting was Mohan’s. But police are not even interested in investigating the letter or finding Hafizur,” Jamsher said.
Hafizur had asked Jamsher to contact alleged Rab informant Joy Ahmed alias Babu.
Contacted by the family in the first week of July, Babu demanded Tk 3 lakh for Mohan’s release.
The family agreed to pay Tk 2.5 lakh.
Jamsher claimed he along with some locals went to Babu’s clothing store in Mirpur on July 12, and gave him Tk 2 lakh. But the money could not bring Mohan back.
Denying the allegations, Babu said he was once a driver of civil team of Mirpur police when Jamsher’s house was raided over alleged involvement of Mohan in drug peddling.
According to Jamsher, Mohan was accused in two narcotics cases filed with Mirpur and Shah Ali police stations and had been on bail when he was taken.
Asked about the allegation raised against him, Babu said, “I didn’t take any money from Jamsher. He has falsely framed me in the case.”
Babu was arrested in the case filed by Jamsher and he is on bail now.
At a press conference on August 28 last year, Jamsher provided journalists with what he said was the call history of Hafizur’s phone. He claimed to have collected it from the phone carrier.
The call history provided by Jamsher showed that he and Hafizur were in contact and that about a hundred calls were made from Hafizur’s number between June 13 and June 24.
Ninety-four of the calls were from Mirpur-Paikpara area. Of the remaining six calls, one was from Rajarbagh Police Lines. There were also other calls to three official numbers of Rab-4, according to the call history.
Jamsher also showed journalists what he said was the registration form of Hafizur’s SIM card, which came attached with a picture of Hafizur in police uniform.
The Daily Star could not independently verify these details.
These correspondents called several numbers on the contact list in August last year. During one phone call, a woman had said she was Hafizur’s cousin.
“Hafizur earlier worked in police. Then he was transferred to Rab-4,” she added.
Hafizur uploaded several pictures of him wearing Rab uniform on his Facebook profile. With the pictures, these correspondents went to Mohan’s house in Mirpur. The family members and neighbours said this was the man who visited Mohan’s house in June last year.
Recently, our Jhenidah correspondent visited Hafizur’s house in Boalia village in Maheshpur upazila.
His house is a one-storey building and it was locked from outside. A holding plate was attached, citing names of Hafizur and his father. The names matched with that in the SIM card’s “registration form” provided by Jamsher.
His family members identified Hafizur when the correspondent showed them his picture.
Hafizur’s step mother Ayesha Khatun said he worked for Rab-4 and he came home on holidays.
The Daily Star called Hafizur over phone recently. Asked about Mohan’s incident, he said it was a case of misunderstanding and he has been “victimised” in the incident.
Hafizur, however, didn’t want to go into details.
When asked if he was ever posted in Rab, he first sidestepped the question and then he said, “Now I have been posted to Meherpur.”
He declined to say anything more.
Wishing anonymity, one of his cousins in Jhenidah on Saturday night said he was in Rab-4 and later was transferred to Meherpur.
“He has been in trouble over the last one year because of this incident,” the cousin said, after he was asked about adduction of Mohan.
Rab-4 Commanding Officer Chowdhury Manjurul Kabir denied his unit’s involvement in the abduction.
He had said they had not picked up anyone named Mohan from Mirpur and that anyone claiming to be a Rab member, does not mean that he is from the elite force.
About the CCTV footage, he said there was no proof that Rab was involved in the incident.
Contacted on April 22 this year, Salahuddin Karim, inspector of CID, who is now investigating the case, said they have collected all the evidence provided by the family and they were analysing the CCTV footage and investigating all possible links.
When asked about it again on May 20, the CID official came up with similar comment as there was still no development.
He said he had not contacted Hafizur yet.
Dadon Fakir, officer-in-charge of Mirpur Police Station, said they have tried their best to find some clues. But later the case was shifted to the Criminal Investigation Department of police.
But Jamsher alleged that he got no help from the police station.
He said he contacted all possible authorities -- from police headquarters to the National Human Rights Commission. But there was no good news yet.
Jamsher took the banner used in the August press conference and hung it outside his house. He said the photo of his son on the banner helps him believe that one day he would return.
Citing media reports, rights body Ain o Salish Kendra said at least 34 people fell victim to abduction and enforced disappearance last year. They were picked up by people who identified themselves as law enforcers. Of them, 19 were later found.
Talking with The Daily Star yesterday, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Chairman Kazi Reazul Hoque said it is the state’s responsibility to investigate every such incident and find out who are behind this.
“Whenever we get any report of disappearance from any trusted media, we tell the government that this person has the right to move freely and the state cannot avoid its responsibility,” he said.
“The state should investigate how the person went missing.”