The death of 30-year-old apprentice lawyer Rejaul Karim Reja in custody on January 3, which sparked outrage in Barishal city, has led to an outpouring of accounts by locals of a sub-inspector's many transgressions.
SI Mohiuddin Ahamed, a Detective Branch official of Barishal Metropolitan Police, and two others have been sued in connection with the custodial death and he has since been closed and attached to police lines.
Multiple residents of Sagardi and Rupatali areas in Barishal city alleged that Mohiuddin has for years been using his position to harass, extort, and torture locals -- including threatening some with "crossfire".
He had at least two official complaints lodged against him as well before this latest accusation and case filed against him.
Rejaul died at Sher-e-Bangla Medical College Hospital on January 3, with doctors confirming multiple injuries on his body.
His family claimed he was tortured after being picked up from a tea stall by Mohiuddin and two of his associates on December 29 on false charges of being involved in drug dealing.
Younus Munshi, father of Rejaul, lodged a case under the Torture and Custodial Death (Prevention) Act, 2013 with Barishal Metropolitan Magistrate's Court against the three officials on January 5.
The court ordered the Police Bureau of Investigation (PBI) to probe the incident and submit a report by February 23.
Md Kamal, a resident of Sher-e-Bangla Road, said SI Mohiuddin repeatedly harassed him after he was implicated in a case under the Digital Security Act (DSA).
He said he was arrested under DSA on November 26, 2016, when he went to Kotwali Model Police Station to testify about a bribery allegation against a member of police. Mohiuddin was then attached with Kotwali Police Station.
"SI Mohiuddin was the investigation officer of the case. He regularly harassed me without any investigation. About eight to nine months ago, he came and threatened me saying that if I lodge a complaint against the police, I will not be found [anywhere]," said Kamal.
Ripon Mridha, a resident of Rupatali Gastarbine area in the city, alleged that SI Mohiuddin attempted to extort money from him when he, along with two friends, started a land business in 2016.
"Hearing the news, the then SI of Kotwali Police Station Mohiuddin called us and demanded Tk 3 lakh. When we refused to pay the money, he filed a false case and tortured my business partners," said Ripon.
His business partners Afzal Hossain and Ripon Akon were arrested on false charges on October 19, 2016, he said, and were tortured in police custody.
Talking to The Daily Star, Afzal Hossain said he was brutally beaten up by SI Mohiuddin at Kotwali Police Station.
Ripon Mridha told The Daily Star that he lodged a complaint against Mohiuddin about the matter with Barishal Metropolitan Police on October 28 last year.
Harishul Islam, a resident of Rupatali Chandu Market on Sher-e-Bangla Road, alleged Mohiuddin framed him in a yaba case after he refused to give power of attorney of his ancestral property to the SI.
"After looking at the land I inherited from my ancestors on Sher-e-Bangla Road, Mohiuddin called me at his house on July 22, 2019. He showed me his weapon and said, you will not go to that land.
"He threatened me with crossfire if I didn't sign," said Harishul.
"He called me to his house again one day and as I refused to give up my inherited property, he handed me over to the police with yaba."
Harishul said he lodged a complaint with the BMP commissioner on February 13 last year.
"I am still terrified of that day when Mohiuddin arrested me on false charges and threatened me with crossfire."
Mahabub Mollah, a resident of ward 25, said SI Mohiuddin had publicly threatened him with "crossfire" in late 2016 over a land dispute on Ukil Bari Road.
Ward Councillor Sharif Mohammad Anisur Rahman said, "Mohiuddin has been involved as a mediator whenever land was bought or sold in the locality."
He said Mohiuddin demanded money while settling a land dispute in the ward in mid-2020.
Contacted, Mohiuddin, now closed and attached to the police lines, refuted all the allegations against him as baseless. He also said that he was not aware of any complaints against him.
Deputy Commissioner of BMP Moktar Hossain, who heads the probe committee formed on the allegations of torture and death of apprentice lawyer Rejaul in police custody, told the Daily Star that they have received multiple allegations against Mohiuddin.
He said that all matters were under investigation, adding that it was not possible to say any further in the interest of the investigation.