The families of two teenagers killed in Mohammadpur during a clash of Awami League factions ahead of the general election have been robbed of justice.
The family members of one of the victims said police submitted the final report in the case without talking to them. The report mentioned no clash even though it was widely covered by the media at that time. It termed the incident an “accident”.
Councillor Tarequzzaman Rajib of ward-33 also threatened the father of one of the victims not to file a murder case, they said.
A case was filed after the November 10, 2018, incident and the father of one of the teens was made the plaintiff.
The father maintains he did not file the case and that the signature on the case document could not be his since he is illiterate. He said Councillor Rajib put a gun to his head and told him to do as he said after the incident.
The families opened up to this paper only after Rajib was arrested this week.
On the morning of November 10, 2018, a procession of vehicles, largely comprised of flatbeds, with supporters of AL leader Sadek Khan was going towards the AL Dhanmondi office to buy nomination paper for Sadek’s candidacy in the polls.
Mohammad Sujon, 19, and Arif Hossain, 14, were on one of the pickup trucks when the procession was attacked allegedly by the men of rival AL leader and then lawmaker Jahangir Kabir Nanak.
During the melee Sujon and Arif fell off the vehicle and the driver, trying to avoid the brick chunks being hurled at the pickup, reversed and ran the two over, according to case documents, news reports, witness accounts, and statements of the families.
Sujan and Arif died in hospital.
Arif’s father Faruk Hossain was taken to a community centre in Mohammadpur when he was on his way to the hospital. He was confined there for 12 hours by Rajib’s men, Faruk told The Daily Star.
Late at night, Rajib, reportedly Nanak’s ally, at the community centre told Faruk to go to the police station to talk about getting the body of his son.
Faruk then went to the police station, gave his details, and told the officials there what he knew about the incident. He had no idea that police were filing a case making him the plaintiff. The police officials there asked him to identify the body at the Suhrawardy hospital, Faruk said.
On his way to the hospital from the police station, two men stopped him near Shia Masjid and took him to Rajib’s home.
Rajib told him at gunpoint to do as he said regarding the matter, Faruk told The Daily Star.
“You wouldn’t get anything if you file a murder case. Instead, you will be harassed and face the same consequences as your son. You are from Lalmonhon of Bhola and so am I. Do what I say. You will get a good compensation,” Faruk quoted Rajib as saying.
Faruk eventually identified his son’s body the next day.
Faruk said, “After the incident, I thought it was police who were the plaintiff in the case.
“This is my NID, sir. See, I can’t sign,” Faruk showed his NID to this correspondent which had his thumb print.
Faruk said not a single police officer talked to him about the investigation since then.
Sujon’s uncle Md Riaz told The Daily Star last night that the police never talked to them either.
He said councillor Rajib had promised them compensation and jobs for family members but he never delivered.
Sujon’s family did not know that the final report was submitted. They heard it first from The Daily Star correspondent.
After “investigating” the case for 11 months, police submitted the final report terming the incident an “accident”.
Police had arrested convener of Jubo League’s Adabar Thana unit Arifur Rahman Tuhin in connection with leading the attack but in the final report police said they found no evidence of Tuhin’s involvement.
Rajib, on behalf of then MP Nanak, had given Arif’s family Tk 30,000 and Sujon’s family Tk 25,000 as burial cost.
After the incident, AL General Secretary Obaidul Quader said the prime minister directed the authorities concerned to submit a probe report over the incident within two days.
Whoever is found involved would be given exemplary punishment, he had said, adding that the prime minister wanted to know “who destroyed the peaceful election environment”.
Sub-Inspector Mukul Ranjan of Mohammadpur police station, investigation officer (IO) of the case, said they submitted the final report of the case in the first week of this month as they could not find any evidence or witnesses.
Police also could not identify the pickup truck and its driver.
In the final report, police said the two factions of the ruling party came “face to face” near Mohammadi Homes Ltd on November 10 when the unidentified driver reversed in a hurry and could not see what was behind him. This led to the two getting run over.
The SI in his investigation found no evidence of the clash. He only said the two faction came “face to face”. The media, however, had extensive coverage of the incident.
They reported that the attackers, armed with hammers, sharp weapons and brick chunks, swooped on the procession of vehicles.
The IO said said Faruk did not know what had actually happened and had “filed the case” based on hearsay.
Taking to this newspaper, the SI claimed that he did not find anything in CCTV footage and no local wanted to be a witness.
Asked why the IO never contacted Faruk, the IO first claimed that he had contacted him but later said they could not reach him.
The IO claimed that Faruk had indeed filed the case.
At one stage of the conversation with this correspondent, the IO said he had written the final report with direction from a superior officer of Tejgaon Division Police.
Anisur Rahman, deputy commissioner (Tejgaon division) of Dhaka Metropolitan Police, told The Daily Star that he had no knowledge about the development of the case as he joined the division only a few months ago.
“I will have to see the documents,” he added.
In November last year, Nanak said he had nothing to do with the attack on the procession.
Sadek had said that he did not want to blame anyone and demanded a proper investigation.
The Daily Star could not reach Nanak and Sadek for comments over the last few days.