The alleged abduction of a man in Kushtia early yesterday and the subsequent disclosure by detectives that he was in their custody in Dhaka have raised questions because of contradictory statements from the law enforcers.
Safi Haji alias Haji Shafique, 46, a sand trader, went missing from the west side of Lalon Shah Bridge at Bheramara upazila in the district around 3:30am, according to family members, who have links with the ruling Awami League.
His cousin, Bheramara upazila AL President Abu Bakkar Siddique, claimed that Safi had been abducted by criminals following “disputes over sand trade”.
Protesting the “abduction” and demanding Safi's rescue, Siddique's supporters and AL activists put up barricades on the Kushtia-Dhaka highway, disrupting traffic for about an hour from 6:00am.
The agitators also vandalised and torched two houses on the north side of the bridge over the alleged involvement of five people of that house in the “abduction”.
Police suspect the house was Safi's crime den.
According to sources, an arms case and two general dairies (GD) for smuggling were filed against Safi with Bheramara Police Station.
Contacted around 12:00pm, Kushtia police said Safi had been arrested in Dhaka city with 500 bottles of Phensedyl.
“A team from DMP arrested Safi and recovered 500 bottles of phensedyl from his possession around 8:00am when he was going Baridhara area on a microbus,” said Sohel Reza, additional police super of Kushtia.
“Safi was actually a drug trader in the guise of a sand trader,” he claimed. Bheramara AL President Siddique disagrees with the police official. He, however, said, “We are verifying the claim.”
Around 8:00pm, the ASP retracted his statement when he was contacted again.
He said five people, including two women, of the house that was burnt by AL activists informed police that Safi had been picked up from the house by plainclothes armed policemen who came in two microbuses.
Kushtia police detained the five for interrogation. Their identities could not be known.
The ASP added a detective team from Dhaka led by DB Sub-Inspector Hamid conducted an operation to arrest Safi.
Additional Deputy Commissioner of DB police (north) Md Mahfuzul Islam told The Daily Star around 8:30pm that Haji Shafique was picked up about 150km away from Lalon Shah Bridge around 4:00am after a tip-off as part of an ongoing operation to nab drug smugglers.
"After the operation, we had informed Bheramara Police Station about it later in the morning."
He added that Safi was in their custody. They could not produce the detainee in court because they had just returned from Kushtia.
However, Parvez Islam, officer-in-charge of Bheramara Police Station, told this correspondent that he had not been informed of the DB operation until afternoon.
"I called sub-inspector Hamid, and he said he could not inform me about the operation because his mobile phone battery did not have any charge," he said.
The Daily Star could not contact the sub-inspector.
Kushtia police said they had sent a team to bring back Safi from Dhaka.