Rangpur police authorities allowed former Sonagazi officer-in-charge Moazzem Hossain to leave for the capital two days after a Dhaka court issued an arrest warrant against him on May 27.
On May 29, Moazzem left Rangpur for Dhaka after being summoned by the Police Headquarters, said Rangpur range Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Devdas Battachariya yesterday, adding that Moazzem had been unofficially absent since then.
Moazzem remains traceless and his cellphone has been switched off since he left, said Md Shariful Alam, staff officer to the DIG. He had apparently told the authorities that he would return within four to five days, Sharif added.
The DIG said he had received the arrest warrant on Saturday.
Earlier, the district’s Superintendent of Police Kazi Moniruzzaman said he received the arrest warrant on June 3, contradicting media claims that a copy of it had reached the Feni SP office on May 31. Moniruzzaman also said the warrant was then sent to Rangpur Range by a special courier.
Moazzem was attached to the office of Rangpur range DIG after he was suspended on May 8 on charges of violating departmental discipline, tarnishing the image of police and behaving inappropriately. He joined Rangpur Police Line in mid-May.
Explaining the delay, an official of Rangpur Range police claimed the warrant order was not sent in a proper way.
Contacted yesterday, the Feni SP said he had informed the media of receiving the warrant soon after getting it, adding, it sometimes took time to reach via mail.
He also said he would not show any negligence in executing the warrant.
Khurshid Alam Khan, a Supreme Court lawyer and Editor of Dhaka Law Reports, said the police could have arrested former OC Moazzem without the arrest warrant order as he was an accused in a cognizable offence.
If the police had arrested him, the image of the police department would have been brightened, he said, adding that Moazzem had committed professional misconduct by leaving his office on a false pretext.
Voicing concern over the matter, Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) in a statement yesterday said the incident put a question mark over the police authority’s desire to ensure a fair trial in the case.
Meanwhile, Home Minister Assaduzzaman Khan yesterday said the former OC would have to face the music as per the offence he committed.
Whoever is involved with crimes -- be the person an OC, a home ministry official or a public representative -- will have to face punishment, the minister told reporters at his Secretariat office.
If the former OC has gone into hiding, it will take some time to find him but he must face the trial, Assaduzzaman said.
A tribunal in Dhaka on May 27 issued an arrest warrant for the former Sonagazi OC on charges of recording a statement of a Feni madrasa student Nusrat Jahan Rafi on a mobile camera without her consent and circulating the clip on social media.
On May 29, Moazzem filed a petition with the High Court seeking anticipatory bail in the case filed on charges of filming and circulating the clip.
Nusrat, a student of Sonagazi Islamia Senior Fazil Madrasa in Feni’s Sonagazi upazila was set on fire on April 6 allegedly for refusing to withdraw a sexual harassment case filed against the madrasa’s principal Siraj Ud Doula.
She died at Dhaka Medical College Hospital on April 10.
TIB VOICES CONCERN
The TIB in a statement yesterday said it was normal to raise questions about police role in Moazzem going traceless.
“The arrest warrant issued against Moazzem Hossain on May 27 took more than a week to reach Rangpur Range. Now the Rangpur range is saying it wasn’t done according to rules. Now it’s being said he has escaped…,” said TIB Executive Director Dr Iftekharuzzaman.
He said leaving out Moazzem from the PBI charge-sheet was also a questionable act. “It’s only natural to question whether or not Moazzem has been given scope to flee,” he added.
Demanding judicial investigation into the local police department’s role in the Nusrat murder, he said if transparency and accountability of the police force was not ensured, the rule of law would collapse.