Relatives of victims break down in tears during a civil demonstration against extrajudicial killings and disappearances in front of the Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban yesterday. Photo: Anisur Rahman
Amid uproar over Rab personnel's alleged involvement in the abduction and killing of seven people in Narayanganj, the High Court yesterday ordered the government to keep the elite force from probing the incidents.
It also directed the government to form a seven-member committee headed by an additional secretary of the public administration ministry to investigate the brutal murders.
Meanwhile, the Rab yesterday formed a probe team led by its Additional Director General (administration) Aftab Uddin to see if any of its members was complicit in the abduction and murder.
Besides, police are investigating the incidents and the alleged involvement of Rab members.
Asked about the HC order, State Minister for Home Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said, “We have no other option but to follow the High Court directives. We will take steps once we receive a copy of the order.”
On the HC directive not to include Rab in the probe, he said it is the law enforcement agencies that have the expertise to probe such cases of murder and abduction.
They will probe the murders of the seven people, including Narayanganj panel mayor and ward councillor Nazrul Islam, and look into the allegations against Rab members, Kamal said.
If the Rab and police investigations find involvement of any Rab member in the killing, action will be taken against the guilty person, he added.
On Sunday, Nazrul's father-in-law Shahidul Islam alleged that some Rab men had abducted and murdered the Narayanganj city councillor in exchange for Tk 6 crore. He claimed that some workers saw Rab men abduct Nazrul near Shibu Market in Narayanganj on April 27.
Nazrul and his four aides, senior lawyer Chandan Sarker and his driver were abducted almost at the same time after they left the court area by two cars in Narayanganj. Six bodies, including that of Nazrul and Chandan, were found floating in the Shitalakkhya river three days later, and another the following day.
Meanwhile, the Narayanganj district administration cancelled the licence of 11 firearms of local Awami League leader Nur Hossain, the main accused in the Nazrul murder case, and his seven aides.
To prevent Hossain and other accused from sneaking out of the country, the home ministry yesterday issued a red alert at the Benapole border, reports our Benapole correspondent.
Immigration police, Boarder Guard of Bangladesh and the port police station have been asked to detain them if they try to flee to India, according to officials.
Also yesterday, detectives arrested a person named Ratan from the capital's Gulshan area and seized the cell phone of slain lawyer Chandan from him.
With the latest, the number of arrestees in the murder case rose to seven.
Law enforcers earlier arrested six employees of Hossain, who are now on remand.
Police are also interrogating nine persons whom they picked up in Narayanganj on Saturday.
The family members of Nazrul and Chandan have expressed deep frustration over the police failure to arrest any of the culprits.
Describing the formation of the Rab enquiry committee as an “absurd eyewash”, eminent jurist Shahdeen Malik said, “It's like assigning Shamim Osman to probe the criminal elements in the Awami League."
A committee made up of retired judicial and police officials should carry out such enquiry.
On abductions and killings in Narayanganj, Malik said, “Common crimes are committed by miscreants whose level of skill is very low. These abductions and killings were done in such a manner that required vigorous training, technological expertise, and the skill to remain untraced or identified.”
“All these clearly indicate that the criminals are members of specially trained agencies,” he said.
In a suo moto order, the HC asked the government to form the probe committee with two officials, not below the rank of deputy secretary, from each of the public administration, law, and home ministries.
The court asked the ministries to inform it about the progress in the probe within a week.
The bench of Justice Md Rezaul Haque and Justice Gobinda Chandra Tagore directed the Rab chief to run departmental enquiry to see whether any of its personnel was involved in the abductions and murders.
It directed the inspector general of police to provide protection and security to the family members of the victims and the witnesses.
The IGP was also ordered to involve the Criminal Investigation Department and the Detective Branch of police in the probe of the murder case and submit a progress report in a week.
The HC order came after lawyer Shameem Sardar placed before it news reports of different dailies on the abduction and killing of the seven people in Narayanganj and Rab men's alleged involvement.