Inspector General of Police AKM Shahidul Hoque yesterday claimed poet and writer Farhad Mazhar was not abducted, rather he took a trip to Khulna on his own on July 3.
“Analysing the information and evidence obtained during our investigation, it is apparent that Farhad Mazhar was not abducted,” the IGP said at a press conference at the police headquarters.
Asked why the writer would do that, the police chief said he might have wanted to embarrass the government.
The IGP's remarks contradict Farhad's judicial statement. The writer in the statement said some unidentified people abducted him in the capital minutes after he came out of his Adabar home to buy some medicines early that day.
Shahidul said police traced Farhad near Aricha Ghat around 8:00am soon after his wife lodged a complaint about his “abduction”. Law enforcers set up checkpoints at every district wherever his mobile phone was tracked. Policemen searched every microbus at the checkpoints, but didn't find him.
The IGP, however, couldn't say how Farhad went to Khulna from the capital. He suspected the writer travelled by a bus like he did during his return trip before being found by law enforcers in Jessore's Noapara upazila around 11:30pm on the same day.
According to Farhad's judicial statement, he had been in abductors' custody between 5:29am and 7:00pm on July 3. He made 10 calls to his wife and six to another person and sent Tk 15,000 to that number through a mobile banking platform, the police chief said.
“Tracking the second mobile phone, we came to know that the person was a woman from the capital's Bhatara and later she went to Chittagong.”
“Since she was communicated by Farhad Mazhar during the period he had been missing, she also came under investigation. The woman gave statement before a court under section 164 [of the Code of Criminal Procedure]. We collected the records of the phone calls between Farhad Mazhar and the woman.”
Shahidul further said CCTV footage revealed that the writer was roaming freely at Khulna New Market and Noorjahan Market area between 4:21pm and 7:28pm on July 3.
Asked whether police would take any action against Farhad for making “false” statement, the IGP said they would consider it from a humanitarian perspective if he had done it confusingly. But police would consider taking legal actions against the writer it he wanted to challenge the investigation, he added.
The IGP further said police had an audio record of a telephone conversation between Farhad and his wife. The writer during the conversation told her that he was alright and the abductors were about to release him. He also asked her not to talk about the abduction as the matter went viral on social media.
Giving the judicial statement to a Dhaka court on July 4, Farhad said some unidentified people forced him into a microbus and blindfolded him minutes after he came out of his house.
Shahidul said criticism of the law enforcement agencies by some civil society members, including lawyers and renowned personalities, created confusion among the people about the incident.
Meanwhile, the writer returned home on Wednesday evening after receiving treatment in the city's Birdem Hospital for over a week.
In an interview to British daily The Guardian, Farhad on Tuesday described his abduction as he mentioned in his judicial statement. He said he was still suffering from “heavy trauma” and he would need time to recover.
“But I am not afraid to reveal what happened to me,” he said. “People become mysteriously silent after they emerge alive from enforced disappearances. When I return to work I will begin working on this issue. We have to end this culture of enforced disappearances.”