Farhad Mazhar: Picked up in front of cop checkpoint

There was a police checkpoint a few yards from where poet and writer Farhad Mazhar said he was forced into a microbus Monday morning, but police claimed that they saw nothing unusual there.

The 24/7 checkpoint is manned by five policemen, led by an assistant sub-inspector of Adabar Police Station, on the northern end of Shyamoli Ring Road, according to police.

The checkpoint is about 35 metres from Farhad's home.

During police interrogation, Farhad said he was picked up soon after he went past Dhaka Central International Medical College Hospital, which is a few feet away from the checkpoint.

According to documents of Adabar Police Station, Assistant Sub-Inspector Abul Kalam Azad along with a few constables was on duty that morning.

The Daily Star contacted Azad last night but he refused to make any comments and requested this paper to talk to his senior officials.

Biplob Kumar Sarker, deputy commissioner of Tejgaon division, told The Daily Star that there was a checkpoint but the policemen there did not see anything unusual then.

Ahsan Habib, a security guard of the hospital on duty that morning, said he did not see or hear anything unusual either.

"I went home around 6:00am after discharging my duty and later came to know from TV that Farhad Mazhar sir was kidnapped,” he told The Daily Star yesterday.

The Daily Star correspondent yesterday saw a team, led by ASI Jahidul Islam of Adabar Police Station, on duty at the checkpoint.

"We usually check vehicles on specific information," he said.

Meanwhile, a manager of Hanif Paribahan gave a judicial statement in Dhaka that contradicts claims made by Farhad and his wife Farida Akhter.

Farida had said her husband last called her around 7:30pm on Monday to know whether the ransom was ready. 

But Nazmus Sadat Shadi of Hanif Paribahan in the statement said Farhad had bought a ticket himself from the bus service provider's Khulna counter around 4:00pm that day and that he went there alone.

Members of law enforcement agencies found him around 11:30pm on Monday in a Hanif bus at Noapara of Jessore. He was later taken to Dhaka and interrogated at DB office where he told police that abductors had given him the ticket before releasing him in Khulna around 7:30pm that night.

The investigators said they were looking into the discrepancies between the statements made by Shadi, Farhad, and his family members.

Golam Mostofa Rashel, additional deputy commissioner of the Detective Branch of West Division, told The Daily Star that they were also receiving contradicting information regarding the incident and that they were probing into the matter.

Shadi in his statement said Farhad had identified himself as Gafur while buying the ticket and then enquired about nearby restaurants before leaving. “He came back to the counter around 9:00pm and boarded the air-conditioned bus.

“The next day I learnt that Gafur was actually Farhad Mazhar.”

On Tuesday, Farhad in his judicial statement said several unidentified men had forced him into a microbus and blindfolded him minutes after he came out of his Adabor home to buy medicine early Monday morning.

Farhad's wife Farida held a press conference at their home around 10:00pm, about an hour and a half before he was found in Jessore. She told reporters that she had received the first call from her husband at 5:29am after he left home.

"He [Farhad] told me that some people were taking him away. He said they would kill him,” Farida said. 

Farhad again called her from his number around 6:21am and requested her to arrange Tk 30-35 lakh as ransom. The family received three to four more calls from Farhad. The last one was at 7:30pm, she said.

The writer has been receiving treatment at Birdem Hospital where he was taken on Tuesday.

Yesterday, detectives were seen near his hospital room.

Quoting doctors, family friend Shima Das Shimu said Farhad was traumatised and could not sleep well. “He speaks very little. We do not ask him about what had happened,” she said.