Sohel Hossain Montu, who according to his family was picked up along with Hanif Mridha from Narayanganj's Siddhirganj late last month, was still missing till last night.
Hanif, aged around 40, died in the custody of Rapid Action Battalion hours after Friday's suicide blast at the capital's Ashkona. Rab claimed he had complained of chest pain after being detained near the blast scene.
Hanif's family also claimed he had been missing since he was “picked up”.
Talking to The Daily Star, Sohel's mother Momtaz Begum said they were searching for her son in vain. Even yesterday, they went to the Rab-1 office in Uttara looking for him.
“He is my only son. Please find him,” she cried.
Sohel, a furniture trader in Gulshan, studied only up to class 10. Sohel and Hanif, both from Barguna, were friends and disciples of Charmonai Pir.
They went missing on February 27 while returning to Narayanganj after attending a religious programme of the Pir in Barisal.
They were coming back in a launch and its operator was Momtaz's cousin, who dropped the two friends near Kanchpur in Siddhirganj. Getting down from the vessel, the duo was about to get into a car parked near the Kanchpur bridge.
However, some men appeared at the scene in a microbus and took them inside and disappeared. The launch operator saw it from the vessel, Momtaz claimed.
They also took away the car, which belonged to Hanif, holding the driver hostage at gunpoint, she said.
The launch operator tried to call Hanif on his mobile phone immediately but it was switched off. He then called Momtaz and told her what just happened. The next day, she came to Dhaka from Barguna in search of her son, who is in his early 40s.
The men, who “picked up” the two friends, left the driver near Purbachal area that day. The car is still missing, she said.
Talking to reporters on Sunday, Hanif's wife Kulsum Begum gave a similar description of the incident. She said, “Our driver Jewel took our car to Kanchpur bridge to pick up Hanif.
“After Jewel reached there, he saw a group of seven to eight people whisk Hanif and Sohel away by a HiAce microbus,” Kulsum said quoting the driver.
Several other members of the group posing as detectives then forcibly boarded the car. They pointed firearms at Jewel and asked him to keep driving. As the car reached Purbachal area, they forced Jewel to get down and drove off, she said.
Talking to The Daily Star yesterday, Momtaz said her anxieties only increased after she heard the news of Hanif's death in Rab custody.
Contacted, Mufti Mahmud Khan, director of Rab's Legal and Media Wing, rejected the claim of Sohel's mother.
Sometimes, he said, criminals impersonating as police and Rab members abduct people, harming the reputation of law enforcers.
He reiterated the claim that Hanif died in Rab custody following complaints of chest pain.
Hours after a suicide bomber blew himself at a Rab barrack in Ashkona on Friday, Hanif was detained around 4:30pm after he tried to run away from a local restaurant sensing Rab presence. Later, he was taken to a Rab camp where he complained of chest pain, he said.
He was then taken to Kurmitola General Hospital where doctors declared him dead around 5:45pm, the official added.
However, Hanif's brother Halim Mridha said he filed a general diary with Siddhirganj Police Station on March 4, stating that Hanif and Sohel disappeared after disembarking from a launch on February 27.
Halim on Sunday said they learnt from media reports that a person named Hanif died in Rab custody. Later, they went to the Bimanbandar Police Station and confirmed that the deceased was indeed his brother Hanif.
Asked for comments on the incident, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Chairman Kazi Reazul Haque told reporters at a discussion at The Daily Star Centre, “Government should prove that their men were not involved. If they are involved, they should be punished.”
Meanwhile, law enforcers were yet to identify Friday's suicide attacker at Ashkona and the biker shot dead by Rab men on Saturday after he “defied a signal to stop at a checkpoint” in the capital's Khilgaon.
POLICE RAID AT CTG HOUSES
Police yesterday raided two houses in Akbersha area in Chittagong city, suspecting them as militant dens.
They, however, found nothing there. Law enforcers told our correspondent there that it was part of their routine anti-militancy block raid that began on March 8.