Families repeated pleas with the authorities went in vain after their loved ones had allegedly been picked up by law enforcers in 2012 and 2013.
But they have clung to the hope that the 20 victims of enforced disappearance would return to them if the prime minister intervenes in this matter, which is what they demanded at a press conference at the Jatiya Press Club in the capital yesterday.
Sajedul Islam Suman, who was the general secretary of ward-38 of the BNP's Dhaka city unit, was held along with five others in the Bashundhara residential area in Dhaka on December 4, 2013, said Suman's family.
None of them came back and their families don't know their whereabouts.
Suman's elder sister Afroza Islam at the conference said the family had gone to government high-ups and law-enforcement agencies, seeking help to get him back.
“I no longer want to go anywhere,” said a sobbing Afroza, demanding return of her brother.
The authorities should realise the agony the victims' families have been through since they went missing, she added.
Nineteen of the victims were picked up from different places in the capital and its adjacent areas between November 28 and December 11, 2013, according to their families. Another person was picked up in 2012.
Some of the victims were students while some leaders and activists of the BNP and its affiliated bodies.
The families held a press conference last year and several protest programmes including human chains to press home their demand.
Eight victims -- Suman, Zahidul Karim Tanvir, Mazharul Islam Russel, Abdul Quader Bhuiyan Masum, Asaduzzaman Rana, Al Amin, Adnan Chowdhury and Kawsar Ahmed -- were picked up by Rab-1 personnel from Bashundhara and Shaheenbagh areas in Dhaka on December 4-5, 2013.
Twelve others reportedly picked up by detectives and Rab members are Khalid Hasan, Samrat Mollah, Jahirul Islam (Habibur Bashar Jahir), Mohammad Sohel, Parvez Hossain, Mohammad Sohel Chanchal, Nizamuddin Munna, Tariqul Islam Jhantu, Mahbub Hasan Sujan, Kazi Farhad, Selim Reza Pintu and Tariqul Islam Tara.
“I hope all of them are safe and alive,” said Suman's mother Hazera Khatun yesterday.
Tonu, younger brother of Pintu, urged the PM to take steps for the victims' safe return.
“I want my brother back -- alive,” he said.
Sujan's brother Shakil said that despite repeated efforts his family could not know the whereabouts of his brother picked up from Sonargaon of Narayanganj on December 8, 2013.
The family is still in shock.
“December is the month of victory, a month of glory. Why do we have to still cry 45 years after the independence?” Shakil said.
Minara Begum yesterday talked about her missing brother Rana who had come to the capital from Rangpur to study in Jagannath University.
Her mother had asked him to stay together with his sister and her husband. “But now I have to go home alone and I don't know what to say to my mother,” Minara said.
Hridi, Ahad, Mim and Arian, sons and daughters of four victims, pleaded for their fathers' safe return.
They said they want to go to school with their fathers and have good time again.
Meanwhile, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said, “There is no such thing like enforced disappearance.”
While addressing an event in the capital, he said guardians made allegations of enforced disappearance but their sons might have gone into hiding.
“They have been hiding for many reasons,” he said, adding that it was seen in the past that such “victims” did return.