One year on, still no trace | Daily Star
12:00 AM, December 04, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:36 AM, December 04, 2018

Disappearance of Ex-Envoy

One year on, still no trace

Family alleges police not doing much

“It has now reached the point where it seems as though my father never existed.”

Shabnam Zaman's year-long frustration and agony were evident when she spoke about her father, Maroof Zaman, a former Bangladesh Ambassador to Vietnam, who mysteriously disappeared from the city last year.

Every single individual or law enforcer that the family had contacted throughout the year has either been inaccessible or unwilling to offer any meaningful assistance, Shabnam wrote in an email when contacted by The Daily Star.

The law enforcers “inaction” to find Maroof in the last year has frustrated his family members as the questions of who picked him up and why still haunt them. 

The answers, as well as Maroof, remain missing.

“All we want is our father to return home to us alive,” she wrote.

Shabnam questioned the state's silence to find her father.

Maroof, 62, has been missing since December 4 last year after he left his Dhanmondi residence in his private car to pick up his younger daughter Samiha Zaman from Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka.

His daughter was scheduled to land at 7:30pm. Around that time, Maroof called the land phone at his house and told the house help “to allow a person to take his laptop”, Maroof's brother Rifat had earlier said.

Three men, tall, well-dressed and wearing caps, went to his house and took his laptop, desktop and camera.

Maroof was unreachable after that, Rifat said, adding that his car was later found abandoned in Khilkhet area.

Law enforcers could not identify the men even though there were CCTV footages of them in the house.

Speaking to The Daily Star on Sunday, Officer-in-Charge of Dhanmondi Police Station Abdul Latif said they were yet to find any clue about the former ambassador's whereabouts.

“We are trying,” he said, adding that they could not identify the three men either. 

Maroof was among a dozen victims of enforced disappearances since August of last year. At least five of them returned while law enforcers are said to have arrested three others afterwards.

The whereabouts of Maroof and some others are still unknown.

According to rights body Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK), as many as 544 people have allegedly become victims of enforced disappearances between 2010 and July 2018 in Bangladesh.

Over 300 of them are still missing.

On November 15, 2018, the European Parliament adopted a joint resolution on the human rights situation in Bangladesh where they explicitly highlighted the disappearance of Maroof.

The resolution called on the Bangladeshi authorities “to conduct independent investigations into reports of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and excessive use of force, including the cases of Maroof Zaman… and to bring those responsible to justice in accordance with international standards…”

Rights activists alleged incidents of enforced disappearance and extrajudicial killings, especially “shootouts”, were being used as tools to create panic among the masses.

The number of enforced disappearances increases when the number of so-called shootouts decreases.

Speaking to The Daily Star, Human rights activist Nur Khan Liton said, “It is regrettable that we have not gotten any information about Maroof Zaman in the last one year. The actions of law enforcers to trace him have not been seen at all.

“Incidents of disappearances of people like ambassadors or lawmakers are carried out to create an atmosphere of panic in order to mute others.”

Nur added that the law enforcers' failure to find such victims raises questions of whether they were involvement in the incident.

Marking one year since Maroof's disappearance, his family once again urged the government to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation into the disappearance and bring the perpetrators to book.

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