Kalihati Shooting

Irresponsibility of cops blamed

“Irresponsible attitude” of cops mainly led to the killing of four of the locals protesting the brutality on a woman and her son at Kalihati upazila in Tangail in September last year, said an enquiry report of police. 

“The killing of four people could have been avoided had police tackled the protest with patience and behaved responsibly,” the report says.

The report also pointed out “political instigation” and failure of then Kalihati OC Shahidul Islam, Ghatail OC Mokhlesur Rahman, acting SP of Tangail Sanjay Sarker and additional SP (south) Shariful Islam, sources said.

On the afternoon of September 18, hundreds of locals took to the streets protesting the September 15 assault of the mother and son.

A clash ensued when police intercepted the demonstration, leaving the four shot to death and 32 others injured.

A three-member team led by Additional Deputy IGP of Dhaka range Alamgir Hossain was formed to investigate the mayhem.

Two other members are additional SP (South) of Tangail Aslam Khan and additional SP of Dhaka range Mohammad Akhtaruzzaman.

They were asked to submit the report within two months.

“We have submitted our report to the inspector general of police by the deadline,” Aslam Khan told this correspondent yesterday.

The police boss will submit the report to the High Court as per an HC bench order, he added.

Following a writ petition filed by Executive Director of Bangladesh National Women Lawyers' Association (BNWLA) Salma Ali, the court issued a rule upon the government to explain in four weeks as to whether the police had followed legal provisions while firing on the agitating people at Kalihati.

Salma Ali filed the petition on behalf of the organisation on September 21, also seeking directive from the HC on the authorities concerned to pay compensation to the family members of the victims.

A member of the investigation team said they recommended taking actions against 11 police members -- the then OCs of Kalihati and Ghatail police stations, acting SP and additional SP of Tangail, and three other cops.

The investigation report said sub-inspectors and police members shot the agitating people from their pistols, shotguns and rifles, leaving four people dead and others injured.

Kalihati OC Shahidul Islam failed to report to his superior how many rounds were fired and how many people were killed or injured although the incident took place at Kalihati bus stop.

About Ghatail OC Mokhlesur Rahman, the investigation report said despite sensitive nature of the protest, he failed to address it.

Two correspondents of The Daily Star visited the spot and talked several eyewitness and villagers after the incident. They learnt that the protest was peaceful at first and there was no instigation from any quarter.  

This newspaper could not know the details about the “political instigation” as mentioned in the probe report.

It was locals, mostly youths, who took part in the protest, to draw the administration attention to the assault of the mother and son.

Locals say Rafiqul Islam Roma of Saturia village in Ghatail upazila was harbouring a grudge against a teenaged boy of Atharodana village of the same upazila for having an affair with his wife.

Roma's family had asked the mother and son to come to his house, saying he just want to talk things out.  

The two came to Roma's house on September 15 -- but only to face serious physical abuse and humiliation. They were beaten up by Roma, his brother-in-law Hafiz Uddin and neighbour Kazi.

At one stage, the mother and son were stripped and confined to a room.

On information from villagers, police rescued the victims and arrested Roma. Hafiz was arrested following a case filed by the woman with Kalihati Police Station the next day.