More than 200 Bangladeshi youths are missing and police suspect around half of them are involved in religious extremism.
Police stations across the country have sent information about them to the police headquarters as per its instructions following the terror attacks on a Gulshan café and near Sholakia Eidgah early this month.
Some of the attackers, who were from affluent families and studied at reputed educational institutions at home and abroad, had also remained missing for some months before the incidents.
It is believed those men, who were in their 20s, underwent militant training before the attacks that killed around two dozen people, mostly foreigners.
“We have received information about 200 missing youths. Following our primary verification, we suspect around 100 of them have links with militancy and attacks,” a top official at the police headquarters said on Friday.
Wishing not to be named, he told The Daily Star that they were still verifying the information and working on making a final list of suspects.
“Later, we will gather all their personal information and send them to the immigration police to know whether any of them has left the country,” he said.
If any of the missing youths has indeed gone abroad, Bangladesh Police through the government would request the Interpol and the police authorities of the respective country to send it their information or nab them.
Police did not give any information on the missing youths.
However, a Dhaka Metropolitan Police official said 23 of the suspects were from the Dhaka metropolitan area.
From now on, the top official from the police headquarters said, it would be considered an offence if owners rented out their houses without proper verification of their tenants. “We used to consider it negligence. But now, it will be considered an offence,” he said.
One of the attackers of the Gulshan café along with seven other youths stayed in a rented house in Jhenaidah for four months before the attack, said police.
The police headquarters has taken such a stance as investigations revealed that the militants who carried out similar attacks in the past had rented houses nearby their “targets”, said police sources.
The sources, about collecting information about missing youths, said the police headquarters issued a notice to police stations across the country, two days after militants attacked at a police checkpoint near the Sholakia Eidgah in Kishoreganj on the Eid day.
Two policemen, a housewife and a suspected militant were killed in the incident.
The attack came just six days after the bloody siege at Holey Artisan Bakery in the high security diplomatic zone in Gulshan on July 1. Twenty two people, including 17 foreigners and two police officers, were killed then.
Two days after the police headquarters sent the instructions to the police stations, the home ministry also directed the Inspector General of Police to ask all police stations across the country to collect information about missing youths, who may have been involved in religious extremism away from their homes.
As per a decision of a cabinet committee meeting on law and order, the ministry would also make a list of the youths based on the information, and publish their details and photos, seeking people's help for their arrest, added the source.