A record 14 people were killed in so-called shootouts in a single day yesterday, taking the tally of those killed in such incidents to 122, amid the countrywide anti-narcotics drive which has been going on for the last 16 days.
The “gunfights” continue amid growing criticism and concern from rights bodies, opposition leaders and foreign diplomats over the “extrajudicial killings”.
The ongoing drive already became the bloodiest anti-crime drive with death tolls surpassing that of the 2002 Operation Clean Heart (57 deaths) or even the anti-militant drive after the 2016 Gulshan attack (80 deaths).
Yesterday, nine were killed in “gunfights” with police and Rab while five others between rival gangs. All of the deceased were listed drug dealers, according to law enforcers.
The Daily Star could not independently verify their claims.
Three of 14 were killed in Dhaka while one each in Cox's Bazar, Chittagong, Chuadanga, Comilla, Sirajganj and Narail. The other five were killed in so-called infightings in Magura and Jessore's Benapole, our correspondents reported quoting police and Rab officials.
During the drives, the officials claimed to have recovered a huge quantity of drugs.
Rights body Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK) yesterday again expressed concern over the “extrajudicial killings” and condemned the shootout spree.
Citing media reports, it said 119 people have been killed in so-called gunfights and around 10,000 people have been apprehended during the ongoing clampdown.
“The deaths of such a huge number of people in such a short span of time are not acceptable,” the ASK said in a press release.
As per the constitution and international human rights charters, every citizen is entitled to justice. Therefore, the offenders must be tried through the legal process but not by law enforcement agencies, the release added.
Earlier, different rights activists and political leaders criticised the deaths, saying “killing could never be a solution to ending crimes”. Recently, diplomats stationed in Dhaka also expressed concern over the “extrajudicial” killings.
During the nationwide drive, law enforcers have arrested around 11,000 people over their alleged involvement in drug peddling while mobile courts have jailed and fined at least 3,547 others.
They also claimed to have recovered over 25.41 lakh yaba tablets, 26.5kgs of heroin and over 23,000 bottles of phensedyl.
In the capital's Bhashantek Dewanpara area, an exchange of fire took place between members of Rab-4 and drug peddlers in which Ataur Rahman alias Atabar alias Ata, 46, Mostafa Hawlader alias Mostafa Kashai, 52, and Faruq Islam alias Bappi, 37, were killed, according to the Rab.
Ataur was wanted in around two dozen cases, including narcotics cases, with Savar and Manikganj police stations, while Mostafa and Bappi were notorious drug dealers, the Rab claimed.
It also claimed to have recovered two foreign pistols, ammunition and 18,000 yaba pills from the “shootout” spot.
In Cox's Bazar, Majibur Rahman, 42, was killed in a “gunfight” with Rab near Kabitachattar point sea beach area around 12:00am.
Rab-7 Company Commander in Cox's Bazar Maj Ruhul Amin said Mujibur was a top-listed drug dealer in Netrakona and accused in 10 cases. The Rab claimed that its officials recovered a gun, five bullets and 6,000 yaba tablets from the spot.
In port city Chittagong, Md Ishaq alias Yaba Ishaq, 35, was killed in a “shootout” between Rab and a group of drug dealers in Pologround area around 1:30am, said Rab-7 Deputy Director Ashequr Rahman. In a text message, the Rab said Ishaq was accused in at least 19 cases.
A firearm, ammunition and 4,000 yaba pills were recovered from the scene, Rab claimed.
In Comilla, Rosmat Ali, 40, was killed at Laribagh in Burichang upazila around 1:00am, said OC Manoj Kumar of Burichang Police Station. Rosmat was wanted in seven cases filed under the narcotics control act, he added.
Police claimed to have recovered a pipe gun and 40kgs of cannabis from his possession.
Another alleged drug dealer Shah Alam sustained bullet wounds in a “shootout” with police in Palpara Bridge area. He is accused in six cases, including for possessing drugs and firearms, police said.
In Narail, Sajib was killed at Malibagh in the suburban area of the district town, UNB reports quoting Mehedi Hasan, senior assistant superintendent of Narail police.
A firearm, one sharp weapon and some illegal drugs were recovered from the spot, the report said quoting the official.
In Chuadanga, Tanjil Hossain, 40, a “top drug dealer” and an accused in 12 cases, was killed at Satgari Natunpara in the municipality area around 3:00am, said Abdul Khalek, officer-in-charge of Sadar Police Station.
Law enforcers also claimed to have recovered a firearm, four bullets and 170 bottles of phensedyl from the spot.
Tanjil's cousin Akram Hossain, however, said they heard Tanjil was arrested by plainclothes men on Monday night from Bostapatti area of Chuadanga town. “Since then, we had no communication with him,” he said.
In Sirajganj, alleged drug peddler Ahsan Habib, 45, was killed in Kamarkhand upazila, said Md Sakibul Islam, commander of Rab-2, Sirajganj camp.
The deceased was said to be a listed drug peddler and wanted in seven cases. Rab claimed to have recovered a firearm, 20 bottles of phensedyl, and 1,000 yaba pills from the spot.
Three Rab personnel were also hurt during the “gunfight” that left Ahsan dead, the Rab official said.
Two alleged drug peddlers -- Liton Mia, 42, and an unidentified man, aged around 45 -- were killed in an infighting of two rival gangs of drug peddlers in Boro Archa area of Benapole around 4:00am, said Apurba Hasan, OC of Benapole Port Police Station.
Police seized 10kgs of cannabis, one pistol, two bullets and shells of bullets from the spot, he claimed.
In Magura, three alleged drug dealers were killed in a similar incident between two groups of drug peddlers at Batikadanga in Sadar upazila around 1:30am, said Sayruddin Ahammad, assistant superintendent of police in Magura.
They were identified as Bacchu Chopdar, 48, Raihan Dhali alias British, 22, and Kishore Odhikari alias Kala, 32.
Police recovered 320 grams of heroin, 1kg of cannabis, six bottles of phensedyl, two bullets and eight bullet shells from the spot, the law enforcers claimed.
Raihan and Kishore were accused in 10 narcotics-related cases each and Bacchu was wanted in seven such cases, they said.