At least 25 people, including five cops, were injured when villagers protesting the death of a man in custody clashed with police in Rangpur’s Pirganj upazila yesterday.
One of the protesters, Robin, 22, suffered critical injuries after rubber bullets fired by police struck his head. He was admitted to Rangpur Medical College Hospital.
Most of the other villagers suffered minor injuries and received treatment at local hospitals.
The clash broke out around 12:00 noon when a few hundred villagers surrounded the Police Investigation Centre at Bhendabari village after the news of the death of a man in custody spread.
The villagers also allegedly threw brickbats at police.
In response, police charged baton and fired 30 rounds of rubber bullets and tear gas.
The situation was brought under control with police reinforcement, but tension was still prevailing.
Meanwhile, five policemen of the Bhendabari Police Investigation Centre were closed to Rangpur Police Lines for their “negligence in duty”. They are Sub-Inspector (SI) Aminul Islam, the centre in-charge, and assistant sub-inspectors Shah Alam, Hari Kanta Barman, and Tamiz Uddin, and constable Ariful Islam.
According to locals, a police team from the centre picked up Md Shamsul Islam, 59, a resident of Shantipur village of Mithapukur upazila, on Tuesday night. He was found dead inside the lockup of the centre yesterday morning.
Santana Begum, daughter of the deceased, alleged that the centre in-charge, SI Aminul Islam, and police informer Md Zia beat her father to death because he refused to be extorted for Tk 1 lakh.
She said her father was a cattle trader, but police labelled him a drug peddler. SI Aminul denied the allegations.
Gopalpur Union Parishad Chairman Aminul Islam said,”To my knowledge, Shamsul was a cattle trader, not a drug peddler.”
Meanwhile, Officer-in-Charge (OC) of Pirganj police station Soroj Kumar claimed Shamsul was arrested in neighbouring Borodarga village with 15 litres of local liquor.
The detainee committed suicide by hanging himself in the lockup, he claimed.
Shamsul’s daughter Santana, however, told The Daily Star that villagers found the body on the floor of the lockup and not hanging from anything. She alleged that police were giving misleading information to save those responsible.
Shamsul’s wife Momena Begum said her husband was innocent and demanded a fair investigation into the incident.
Meanwhile, a three-member probe body was formed with Rangpur Additional Superintendent of Police (ASP) Abu Maruf Hossain as head and was asked to submit the report within three days, said Rangpur SP Biplob Kumar Sarkar.
The body was sent to Rangpur Medical College Hospital for autopsy.