The seven-murder incident in Narayanganj clearly shows how dangerous a disciplined force can be if one of its unit chiefs and his deputies with some force members get involved in a crime.
Cool-headed planning and execution of the gruesome murders by three top former Rab-11 officials and their 22 subordinates not only tarnished the image of the law enforcement agency, but also devastated the seven families.
With directives from then Rab-11 commanding officer Lt Col (sacked) Tareque Sayeed Mohammad, his deputies Major (sacked) Arif Hossain and Lt Commander (sacked) SM Masud Rana with their team members picked up the seven, including then Narayanganj city panel mayor Nazrul Islam and senior lawyer Chandan Sarkar, on April 27, 2014.
Later, Rab members led by Arif killed all the seven by injecting an anesthetic into them and subsequently smothering them with plastic bags. Early next day, they dumped the bodies at the confluence of the Meghna, tying those with sacks full of bricks.
Six bodies were found floating in the Shitalakkhya on April 30 and the other the following day.
On May 4 that year, Nazrul's father-in-law Shahidul Islam made the stunning revelation that some Rab personnel abducted and killed the panel mayor in exchange for Tk 6 crore from then ward councillor Nur Hossain and his aides.
The Rab's role in the murders attracted a wave of criticism from home and abroad.
Tareque had assigned Arif to kill Nazrul during an officers' conference in March and ordered Narayanganj camp commander Rana to assist him.
Nur Hossain provided the then Rab officials with necessary information for their abductions. He also ensured that there was no gathering at Kanchpur Ghat area so that the Rab members could dump the bodies in the river secretly.
The information was revealed in the charge-sheet of the seven-murder case and confessional statements before courts by the three former Rab officials.
Nur Hossain bribed the accused ex-Rab men to kill his rival Nazrul over previous enmities and establishing supremacy in Siddhirganj.
As the charges against all the 36 charge-sheeted accused were proved, a Narayanganj court yesterday awarded death penalty to 26 of them, including Nur Hossain and three ex-Rab officials, and handed down different jail terms to 10 others.
Twenty-five of the convicts are former Rab men.
Following the murders, Tareque, Arif and Rana were withdrawn from duties. The trio, two deputed from the Army and the other from the Navy, were later sent back to their respective forces and subsequently fired from job on May 6.
The High Court on May 11 ordered their arrests. Tareque and Arif were arrested at Dhaka Cantonment on May 17, 2014. The following day, Rana was arrested in the capital.
Hailing from Debatra village in Pirojpur's Mathbaria upazila, Tareque is the son of a retired army colonel. He joined the elite force as the commanding officer of Rab-11 in November 2013.
He is the son-in-law of Disaster Management and Relief Minister Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury Maya.
Tareque hardly visited his village home as he was brought up in Dhaka, said locals in Debatra village.
Although he was quite unknown to locals, he became the subject of discussion at the village after his role in the seven-murder came to light, reports our Pirojpur correspondent.
According to media reports, he used his influence to stay at Dhaka Medical College Hospital for several months during his confinement, citing back pain. At the hospital, he enjoyed division facilities as a prisoner. However, he was shifted to jail following the media reports.
While testifying in the court, Tareque claimed his innocence and blamed the media for running reports against the accused.
Maj (sacked) Arif Hossain is from Narsingdi's Monohardi upazila. However, his family moved to his maternal grandfather's home in Gafargaon of Mymensingh when he was a child.
Local Ward Commissioner Shahjahan Saju said Arif is the eldest among two brothers and a sister. He was gentle and polite and was a brilliant student since his childhood. He was also known as a good footballer.
“We still find it hard to believe that he became such a brutal murderer,” Saju told our Mymensingh correspondent.
According to his confessional statement, he bought an apartment in Dhaka and Nur Hossain paid the money for him. From abduction to the killing of the seven, he maintained contact with Nur Hossain over the phone.
Rana hails from Boira Colony in Khulna's Khalishpur upazila. He was not well known in his locality as he rarely visited his Khulna home.