The three Rab officials, forced into retirement over their alleged complicity in the Narayanganj seven-murder, have not been arrested even three days into the High Court order for their "immediate" arrest.
Officials and various law enforcement agencies have been giving out conflicting information about their arrest. As of last night, it was unclear if the government had made any effective move to arrest the controversial Rab men.
Amid an outcry from the victims' families, political parties and the media, State Minister for Home Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal yesterday said the trio would be nabbed today, reports UNB.
“As per the High Court order and due process, the agency concerned has been given necessary instructions and they'll be arrested by Wednesday [today],” the news agency quoted him as saying.
Asked to explain the due process, Kamal said that following the court order, the inspector general of police was informed first and then the Narayanganj police superintendent. "The departments concerned of the army have also been informed about it, and they'll be arrested through the army,” UNB added.
Meanwhile, no one seems to know the whereabouts of Lt Commander SM Masud Rana, one of the trio.
Originally from the navy, Rana was in Rab-11 in Narayanganj on deputation when the seven people, including city panel mayor Nazrul Islan and senior lawyer Chandan Sarker, were killed after their abduction last month.
The two others -- Lt Col Tareque Sayeed Mohammad and Maj Arif Hossain -- who were deputed from the army are now attached to the log area in Dhaka cantonment, government sources said.
Contacted yesterday, several navy officials could not say where Rana was.
“He's no longer in the navy. So, we don't know his whereabouts. Maybe the police can say where he is now," said one official, asking not to be named.
The Inter Services Public Relations Directorate also said it had no information on Rana's whereabouts.
Rab Director General Mukhleshur Rahman told this correspondent the trio were no longer in the force, so he could not say where they were now.
Asked why they had not been arrested despite the HC directive, he said specific orders were given to the authorities concerned in this regard and they would comply with it.
On media reports that Rana was traceless, the Rab chief said, “Did the authorised persons go to arrest them? Are they absconding? It will be known only when someone will go to arrest them.”
On Sunday, the HC ordered the inspecter general of police to arrest the three and hand them over to the detectives investigating the sensational case. The HC order was faxed to the IGP's office at 9:30pm that day.
Soon after the HC directive, the state minister for home told journalists that they would comply with the order. He also said the trio were under watch so that they could not flee.
Narayanganj police, who got the arrest order on Monday morning, last night claimed the legal process for the arrest was still underway.
“They will be arrested once the process is completed,” said investigation officer Mamunur Rashid, when contacted.
But a top police official told this correspondent that the legal process was not the issue here. Police could not arrest them as the government high-ups were yet to give the go ahead.
According to another police official, investigators want to make sure that they follow all the rules in this case, to avoid controversy.
On April 27, Nazrul Islam and his four aides and Chandan Sarker and his driver were kidnapped from the Dhaka-Narayanganj link road around the same time in broad daylight. Six bodies, including that of Nazrul and Chandan, were found floating in the Shitalakkhya river on April 30, and another was found the following day.
The other victims are Swapan, Tajul Islam, Liton, Jahangir and Ibrahim.
Nazrul's father-in-law Shahidul Islam has alleged that Rab men killed Nazrul in exchange for Tk 6 crore from ward councillor Nur Hossain, the prime accused, and other suspects.
He later said the son of an influential AL lawmaker had brokered the deal between Hossain and the Rab men. The Daily Star kept from naming the AL lawmaker and his son, as it could not verify the claim independently.
Police have so far arrested 21 people in this connection, but failed to nab any of the six accused named in the case filed by Nazrul's widow.
Meanwhile, the family members of two of the victims did not meet BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia, who went to Narayanganj yesterday, fearing that doing so might minimise their chances of getting justice.
“I am eight months' pregnant, very sick and extremely tired of knocking on doors for help when no one is helping me," said Shamsunnahar Nupur, widow of Jahangir Alam, one of the victims.
Political parties are trying to gain mileage out of the killing, she added.
Family members of Moniruzzaman Swapan, one of Nazrul's aides, also did not meet Khaleda.
“Everything will be ruined if the investigation and the trial of the case are politicised," said Morsheda Akhter, Swapan's widow.