The key suspect in blogger-writer Avijit Roy murder, who was killed in a “shootout” on Sunday, had been missing since being kidnapped by some unidentified persons in Jessore four months back, according to his father.
Besides, there is confusion regarding his identity. According to police, he was Sakib alias Sharif alias Saleh alias Arif alias Hadi-1. But his father Abul Kalam Azad said his name is Md Mukul Rana.
Mukul, who was from Baluigachhi village in Satkhira Sadar upazila, was kidnapped by 10 to 12 persons on a microbus from Bashundia intersection in Jessore around 11:00am on February 23, Azad told this newspaper yesterday.
Mukul was returning home in Satkhira from his in-law's house at Jagannathpur in Jessore with his newlywed wife Mohua Akter Piya.
It was just four days into his marriage.
Quoting his daughter-in-law, Azad said while taking Mukul away, the kidnappers identified themselves as members of Detective Branch.
Police say they conducted a raid at Meradia in the capital early Sunday getting information about the presence of Sharif, an Ansarullah Bangla Team member who had bounty on his head.
During the raid, they saw three people on a motorcycle speeding away. They signalled the bike to pull over but the trio ignored and opened fire on the cops.
The cops fired back injuring one of the three.
Taken to Dhaka Medical College Hospital, the injured was declared dead. He was then identified as Sharif, police say.
Later in the day at a press briefing, police said Sharif was among the men who directly took part in the killing of Avijit on February 26 last year.
“He hacked Avijit,” said Abdul Baten, joint commissioner of Detective Branch of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP).
But Azad said he doesn't believe his son could become a militant or commit murders.
After the kidnap, he alleged, police initially refused to register any general diary (GD) as the name of DB came up. It was, however, accepted days later when a neighbour, who is a police officer, intervened.
Mukul's brother-in-law Amir Hossain filed the GD (No 1344) with Jessore Kotwali Police Station on February 25.
Contacted, Elias Hossain, officer-in-charge of the police station, said the complainant in the GD mentioned that Mukul went missing while returning from a relative's.
The father added, “We had been trying in every possible way to locate him. On Sunday, in our disbelief, we learnt from TV news that he has been killed in a gunfight. But they called him Sharif which is not his real name.”
When Mukul left home for Dhaka a couple of years ago in search of job, Azad advised his son not to get involved in any political activities. Mukul assured his father that he would not disappoint him.
Azad himself is involved in politics; he is a member of Dhulihor union unit of the ruling Awami League.
Mizanur Rahman Babu, chairman of Dhulihor union parishad and also general secretary of the AL unit, said Azad became a party member around three years back and later became an executive committee member. He was active in party activities, added Babu.
Asked what Mukul had been doing in Dhaka, Azad said his son told him that he was working as an accountant at a Rajuk project and his salary was poor. He would have a pay rise once his job became permanent.
Azad could not give specific details about the project; he also doesn't know where his son lived in Dhaka.
Mukul secured GPA-5 in both SSC and HSC exams. He passed SSC from Dhulihor Adarsha High School in 2008 and HSC from Day-Night College in Satkhira, said his father.
He got admitted to English (Hons) at Satkhira Government College and left for Dhaka in the middle of his study.
Principal of Satkhira Government College Prof Liakat Parvez told our district correspondent that Mukul collected his SSC and HSC marksheets on November 22, 2011 for joining a job and later gave those back. He stopped attending classes in December that year, the principal added.
Sumon, one of his school mates, said Mukul was a brilliant student and the school committee presented him a bicycle and a gold ring for his SSC result.
His father added that the upazila parishad in recognition of his good result gave him around Tk 18,000.
Wishing anonymity, some of his neighbours and close friends said Mukul was all along very polite and used to offer prayers regularly.
After he got admitted to honours class, he worked for an “Islami insurance company” and used to move on a motorcycle. However, the name of the company or details about this job could not be known.
One of them said Mukul had practised karate at a Satkhira training centre for some time.
They noticed changes in Mukul's behaviour after he began looking for job in Dhaka. He avoided his acquaintances when he came home.
They saw Mukul rarely in the last two years.
According to his father, the last time he came home was on February 15 and four days later he got married.
Police on May 19 released his photo with five other suspected militants' and announced award for information about their whereabouts.
According to police, Sharif took part and directed the killing of Avijit Roy, blogger Niladri Niloy on August 7, 2015, and attempted murder of publisher Ahmedur Rashid Tutul at Lalmatia on October 31 the same year.
He also planned publisher Dipan murder that took place the same day Tutul was injured; the killings of blogger Oyasiqur Rahman Babu on April 30, 2015 and Jagannath University student Nazim Uddin on April 8 this year and Xulhaz Manna and Mahbub Tonoy on April 25.
Mukul's mother Sakhina Khatun and two other family members received his body from Dhaka Medical College morgue around 11:15pm yesterday after completing all formalities.
Five bullets pierced through his body -- three hit the chest, one his throat and the other his hand, morgue sources said.