Writer, columnist and poet Farhad Mazhar was found on a bus in Jessore last night, 18 hours after he reportedly went missing from outside his home in the capital's Adabor.
A joint team of Rab-6 and police stopped the bus in Noapara area around 11:30pm and found Farhad, said Didar Ahmed, deputy inspector general of police (Khulna range).
The law enforcers pulled over the vehicle after setting up a checkpoint in the area. They had information the writer was travelling to Dhaka from Khulna, the police official told reporters at a press briefing outside Khulna's Phultala Police Station.
Farhad was kept inside the police station. He would be taken to Dhaka as his wife filed a general diary with Adabor Police Station after he had gone missing, the DIG said.
Earlier in the day, Farhad's family claimed the writer had been kidnapped around 5:30am outside his home.
Since then, speculations ran rife over the incident.
DIG Didar said, “He [Farhad] was travelling alone and seemed to be in good health. He seemed completely alright. He was carrying a bag which had in it an extra shirt, towel, mobile charger, some money and other necessary things people usually carry during journey.”
Khondokar Rafiqul Islam, commanding officer of Rab-6, said they tracked Farhad's mobile phone and got to know that he had been to a restaurant in Khulna's New Market area yesterday.
Later, the law enforcers enquired local bus operators and found out that he boarded a Dhaka-bound bus.
Asked whether he was kidnapped as claimed by his family, DIG Didar said it did not look like a case of abduction.
In reply to another query from a reporter whether the writer was staging a drama, the officer said, “Initially, it appears to be so. But we can be sure about it after investigation.”
No one was arrested over the incident.
Meanwhile, Farhad's wife Farida Akter has expressed happiness over the “rescue” of her husband.
“We are waiting eagerly to meet him,” she told The Daily Star last night.
Earlier at a press briefing at their Adabor home, Farida claimed that her husband was kidnapped early yesterday.
“I got a phone call from his [Farhad] number at 5:29am. He told me that some people were picking him up. He said they would kill him,” she said.
Farhad again called her from his number around 6:21am and requested her to arrange Tk 30 to 35 lakh to be paid as ransom. The family received three to four more phone calls from Farhad. The last one came at 7:30pm, she said.
At the briefing, Farhad's daughter Chaumtoli Huq said, “It is a matter of concern that a man like my father has gone traceless.”
Gonoshasthaya Kendra founder Zafrullah Chowdhury, who was also present at the briefing, demanded his safe return.
Farida said Farhad usually gets up early in the morning and does his writings on computer. She saw him doing that yesterday as well before he went “traceless”.
On being informed, police visited his house. Footage of CCTVs installed near there shows Farhad leaving the place alone and there was no one with him, said Biblob Kumar Sarker, deputy commissioner of Tejgaon division police.
BNP Senior Joint Secretary General Rizvi Ahmed yesterday alleged that Farhad was kidnapped by the law enforcing agencies.
“The government knows about the kidnapping of Farhad Mazhar and it's the law enforcement agencies who were behind it,” he said at a press conference at the party's Nayapaltan central office.
He said the government “targeted” Farhad as "it fears his write-ups".
Police and Rab worked throughout the day to find him out on being informed by his family that he went missing.