Man dies in Rab custody

Family alleges torture, Rab denies

A man died in the custody of Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) early yesterday, hours after members of the elite force arrested him at Naogaon.

Mojaharul Islam Jies, 35 of Koibartapara of Manda upazila, was declared dead at Rajshahi Medical College Hospital at 4:37am, said the hospital and police officials.

Executive Magistrate Rohima Sultana Bushra prepared an inquest report at RMCH morgue mentioning marks of injuries in parts of his body.

Even though swollen marks of hits were seen on the back of his head, forehead, throat, both hands, legs, left waist, and on his back, no specific opinion could be given regarding his death, read the inquest report.

Lt Col Mahbubul Alam, director of Rab-5 in Rajshahi, denied victim's family members' allegations that Mojahar was tortured. He claimed that the victim had sustained some injuries while trying to flee.

He said a Rab team of Joypurhat Camp, acting on an intelligence report, arrested Mojahar at an orchard near Shingi Hat of Manda around 10:30pm on Friday and seized eight bullets from his possession.

The team took him to some spots for retrieving firearms but found nothing. He was being taken to Rajshahi when Mojahar complained of not feeling well, said the Rab-5 director.

"Moments later, he became unconscious and Rab members rushed him to RMCH," claimed the Rajshahi zonal Rab chief. He said Mojahar was addicted to heroin and was involved in illegal arms trade.

He could not say if he was accused in any criminal case.

Officer-in-Charge Anisur Rahman of Manda Police Station said Mojahar was not accused in any criminal case filed with his station.

Mojahar's father also named Anisur Rahman, uncle Mokhlesur Rahman and elder brother Azaharul Islam went to RMCH to receive the victim's body.

They told reporters there that Mojahar was tortured to death. They claimed that they had heard about Mojahar's arrest at 7:30pm on Friday and that he was openly beaten up by Rab members at Singa Hat.

“I was at the village mosque for Esha prayer when my mother informed me that some 20 people were beating up my brother,” Azaharul said.

From Singa Hat, Rab members took Mojahar to his home and confined him to his room.

“We family members and other villagers were hearing him scream as the Rab members were beating him up in the room,” he said, adding that the Rab men kept them outside.

He said Rab members beat him up with iron rods and sticks which they gathered from the house.

At 10:30pm, two Rab members took Mojahar out of the room. “He was all bloody and unable to walk,” Azahar said.

They then took him away on a motorcycle but returned at 1:30am yesterday. “At that time Mojahar was unconscious,” he said, adding that Rab members changed his clothes and left for Rajshahi.

“One Rab officer identifying himself as Muradul Islam told us to contact Rajshahi Medical College Hospital,” said Azahar.

Asked about the allegations of torture, Lt Col Mahbubul Alam, said “There was no reason to torture since we got all the information beforehand and seized some ammunition from him, evidence that was sufficient to accuse him.”

After returning from Malaysia five years ago, Mojahar had been living with his family and helping out in his father's farm. “He was not engaged in any criminal activity,” claimed Azahar.