Lost in investigation
Shamima Laila Arjumanna Khan Shammi was rushed to Samarita Hospital in the capital by her husband in the early hours of June 8, 2017, where doctors pronounced her “brought dead”.
Over the last two years, investigation of the case has changed hands twice -- from Mirpur Police Station to the Police Bureau of Investigation (PBI) and finally now to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), as judges at different courts found the first two investigation reports unsatisfactory.
The Daily Star recently obtained copies of the case documents.
Shammi’s brother Farhad Hossain Khan filed a murder case with Mirpur Model Police Station, with Nawsher Ali -- sub-inspector of the police station -- assigned as the investigation officer (IO).
On August 8, 2017, Shammi’s five-year-old son gave a statement to a magistrate in connection with the case, where he said his mother was “tortured to death” by his father, Md Alamgir Hossain Titu.
However, the post-mortem report of Shammi, received by the police station on August 30 that year, said Shammi died by suicide.
On November 6, 2017, Supreme Court lawyer Md Khurshid Alam filed a writ petition with the High Court seeking necessary order, based on a report filed in Bangla daily Jugantor which said there were allegations against the IO of dilly-dallying in the case.
After hearing statements of investigating officer Nawsher Ali and post-mortem conductor Dr Sohel Mahmud, head of forensics department at Dhaka Medical College, the bench of Justice Enayetur Rahim and Justice Shahidul Karim on December 6, 2017 ordered that the case be handed over to PBI for further investigation, as it found “negligence” by the IO in carrying out investigation.
The HC bench also observed that further opinion was required to ascertain the cause of death, and ordered the director of Dhaka Medical College to form a three-member committee to review the post-mortem report and submit its review within 21 days of receiving the order.
The order was sent to them on January 4, 2018.
Curiously, the review committee was formed keeping Dr Sohel Mahmud -- the physician who prepared the original post-mortem report -- and lecturer at DMC’s forensic medicine department Dr Prodip Biswas, a subordinate of Dr Sohel.
The committee, headed by Prof Dr AM Selim Reza, head of forensic medicine at Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College, submitted the review on December 10, 2018 -- a staggering 309 days after receiving the order, in contrast to the HC deadline of 21 days.
The review report also said the cause of death was suicide, “considering the first autopsy report and other documents”.
Inspector Md Nasir Uddin of PBI, who was handed the investigation of the case following the HC order, submitted the charge-sheet of the case on December 24, 2018, charging Alamgir and his third wife Israt Jahan Mukta with abetment to suicide.
Complainant Farhad filed an objection to the charge-sheet with the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate’s court on February 13 this year. After hearing on it, Metropolitan Magistrate Debabrata Biswas observed that the investigation was not carried out properly, and rejected the PBI charge-sheet. He also ordered that the case be handed over to CID.
Ejaz Uddin Ahmed, inspector of CID’s Mirpur Unit (Dhaka Metro West), who is currently investigating the case, told The Daily Star last week, “I was only given the case a few months ago. Important witnesses are being called, but not all of them have reported to us. Investigation is underway, and we will know more after interrogation.”
According to the charge-sheet by PBI, Shammi was Alamgir’s second wife. He had married Shammi, hiding his first marriage. In 2013, he married Israt Jahan, unbeknownst to Shammi, by providing a false name and address, and would often visit Israt’s house -- which he paid for, neglecting his familial duties to Shammi and their two children. At one point, Shammi found out about the secret marriage, and it caused conflicts in their marriage, the charge-sheet says, adding that Alamgir often beat up Shammi. On the evening of June 7, 2017, Alamgir and Shammi locked into an argument and Shammi was tortured that day.
In his statement, Alamgir’s son had also mentioned that his father had married again, and used to abuse his mother. He also mentioned that Alamgir beat up Shammi on the evening of the incident, and injured her nails with a sharp blade. The injury to the nails of the feet are also mentioned in the post-mortem report.
Alamgir, who was arrested after filing of the case, secured bail on June 26 this year, according to a lengthy letter written by Farhad to the chief justice. In the letter, Farhad also alleged that Alamgir’s family have been bribing to influence the investigation into the case -- raising apprehension about why Dr Sohel, who conducted the autopsy, was kept in the review committee along with a subordinate.
He also provided documents to support his claim that the original inquest report was tampered with.
THREATS TO VICTIM’S FAMILY
Farhad filed a general diary (GD) with Kotwali Police Station in the capital on October 27, saying he has been receiving threats from Alamgir and other accused in the case. They have been threatening him over phone to withdraw the case and hand over the children of Shammi -- who are in Farhad’s custody in his village home in Mymensingh -- to them, he claimed. Farhad reported that on October 27, Alamgir saw him at the Court House street and charged at him in a threatening manner, and has continued to issue threats.
Contacted, Alamgir denied the allegation, and said he did not issue any threats to Farhad.