Family members of eight people who had disappeared, including local leader of Ward-38 unit of BNP Sajedul Islam Sumon, form a human chain in front of the Jatiya Press Club yesterday demanding the return of their loved ones. The families claimed that people in Rab uniform had picked them up five months ago. Photo: Anisur Rahman
Family members of eight people, who were abducted allegedly by law enforcers in six hours' time in December last year, have demanded the prime minister's intervention for the rescue of the victims.
At a press conference at the National Press Club yesterday, they said that six of the victims were picked up from Bashundhara Residential Area and the other two from Shaheenbagh of the capital between 8:00pm on December 4 and 2:00am of December 5.
The family members also formed a human chain in front of the press club after the press conference on the same demand.
The families claimed that Rapid Action Battalion-1 personnel picked up Sajedul Islam Suman, 36, his cousin Zahidul Karim Tanvir, 30, Mazharul Islam Rasel, 24, Abdul Quader Bhuiyan Masum, 22, Asaduzzaman Rana, 27, and Al Amin, 26, -- from Block I of Bashundhara that evening.
Of the victims, Sajedul of Nakhalpara is the general secretary of ward 38 unit BNP.
He had been staying out of home fearing arrest and sometimes spent nights at Tanvir's residence in Bashundhara, said Sajedul's mother Hajera Khatun.
On December 4 evening, Sajedul was hanging out with the other five beside a road near Tanvir's under-construction building at Block I.
Around 8:00pm, some 15 Rab personnel reached there and picked them, alleged Sajedul's sister Sanjida Islam, quoting a construction worker who claimed to have witnessed the whole incident.
A resident of an apartment located in Block I said that he saw some Rab men parking four vehicles in front of his building.
“They used the parking space of our building to take a u-turn while leaving,” the tenant told The Daily Star, wishing anonymity.
Masum's brother Arju claimed that his brother was not involved in politics or any criminal activities.
“Since his disappearance, our parents fell sick as we could not know his whereabouts despite repeated tries at the police and Rab offices,” he said.
Following the disappearance, Amin's family lodged an abduction case with Bhatara Police Station on January 26 against unidentified people. This is the only case filed in connection with the incident.
Contacted, Lt Col Kismat Hayat, commanding officer of Rab-1, denied the allegation and said some of the victims' family members had informed them of the incident and attempts were on to trace them.
He also said that because of the political unrest during that time, Rab-1 members were patrolling different areas in Bashundhara as the location is adjacent to the Gulshan diplomatic zone.
In a separate incident, Adnan Chowdhury and Kawsar Ahmed were picked up from their residences at Shaheenbagh around 2:00am on December 5. Their families too point the finger to law enforcers for the abduction.
"A group of seven to eight people, equipped with arms, entered our house and picked him, saying that they needed to interrogate Adnan for some information. They used two vehicles and one of those had 'Rab' written on its side," Adnan's mother told The Daily Star.
According to rights body Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK), as many as 250 people were abducted reportedly by law enforcers between 2007 and 2013.
Of them, 179 remained missing while only 20 were released, and 34 were found dead. The highest 68 people were picked up by law enforcers last year alone.
Speaking at yesterday's press conference, ASK Executive Director Sultana Kamal said that the law enforcers should act sharp in finding missing persons irrespective of their political affiliations.
Eminent jurist Dr Shahdeen Malik said if criminals posing as law enforcers abduct people, the law enforcers should find the perpetrators and bring them to book.