Tea vendor Babul Matabbar, who had suffered severe burns in an incident involving police, died from his injuries yesterday after fighting death for around 16 hours.
Five policemen were suspended following the death.
Ninety percent of his body was burnt as he fell on a kerosene stove after being pushed allegedly by a police informant accompanied by some cops out to pick him up from his roadside tea stall at Gudara Ghat in Mirpur's Shah Ali area around 9:30pm on Wednesday.
He died around 1:30pm yesterday at Dhaka Medical College Hospital.
The victim's wife Lucky Begum said while the police informant, Mohammad Delowar Hossain, was trying to pull Babul out of the tea stall, three to four policemen -- who had come with Delowar in a microbus -- was shoving the 45-year-old tea vendor with batons.
"I was struck in the abdomen with a baton when I tried to save my husband," Lucky said while waiting at Shah Ali Police Station in the early hours of yesterday to register a complaint.
Babul's son Raju alleged that the policemen did not even help him take his critically burnt father to a hospital.
"When I reached the spot, my father was writhing in pain and the policemen were standing idle," Raju told this paper.
"While I was desperately trying to find a way to get him to a hospital, the policemen simply boarded their microbus and left the spot," he added.
Police also purportedly asked the victim's family not to bring any allegation against the cops.
"After I came here [Shah Ali Police Station] to lodge a complaint, they asked me not to tell anyone about anything that goes against police," said Lucky Begum.
And eventually, no policeman was accused in the case.
Babul's daughter Roksana Akhtar filed the case against seven identified people and two-three unknown drug peddlers of the area for the assault, according to Sub-inspector Md Morshed of the police station.
The named ones are Delowar, and local drug peddlers Paruli, Ayub, Robin, Shankar, Dulal Hawladar and Parvin.
The five cops suspended in connection with the incident are Sub-Inspector (SI) Mominur Rahman, SI Shree Ram Chandra, SI Niazuddin Mollah, Assistant Sub-Inspector Jogendranath and Constable Jashim Uddin of Shah Ali Police Station.
Four of them were withdrawn from duty earlier in the duty.
These policemen were on duty at the police station and in the area where the incident happened, according to the Dhaka Metropolitan Police.
They were withdrawn "to facilitate fair investigation", said Deputy Commissioner (Media) Maruf Hossain Sorder of the DMP.
The DMP has also formed two committees -- one led by Deputy Commissioner (Discipline) Tutul Chakrabarty and the other by Additional Deputy Commissioner (Mirpur Division) Masud Ahmed -- to probe the incident.
"Investigations are going on and actions will be taken against those responsible based on the report," DMP Deputy Commissioner (Mirpur Division) Kayumuzzaman Khan told The Daily Star.
'AN EXAMPLE OF POLICE'S MORAL BANKRUPTCY'
National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Chairman Prof Mizanur Rahman has slammed the policemen involved in the incident for not sending the victim to the hospital immediately after he was burnt.
"They have set a prime example of moral bankruptcy and corruption. The state must ensure justice for this crime," he told the press after visiting Babul's family at the DMCH yesterday.
The NHRC would move the High Court if the policemen involved in the killing were not brought to book, he said.
The audacity of the police had crossed all limits and this should be stopped immediately, the NHRC boss commented.
"A citizen has lost his life due to police's illegal activities and arrogance … A tea seller had to die for failing to pay them … We don't need such policemen in the country"
He urged the home minister to "ensure justice and not let the incident to be misled."
Babul once used to peddle marijuana but had been running the roadside tea-stall for the past few months and living a "clean life", according to his wife Lucky.
She alleged Paruli wanted him back in the business. When Babul refused, Paruli started harassing him using police informant Delowar.
COPS SLAMMED IN JS
A Jatiya Party lawmaker last night demanded in parliament that the home minister make a statement under Section 300 of the Rules of Procedure of Parliament on the recent "heinous" incidents involving police.
Referring to the killing of tea vendor Babul, MP Peer Fazlur Rahman sought "exemplary punishment" of the police members involved in the incident.
Lawmakers from both the treasury and the opposition benches welcomed his demand by clapping their hands.
The JP lawmaker also referred to the recent harassments of a Bangladesh Bank official, a Dhaka South City Corporation official and a female private university student by cops.
"Who are these people in the police force? I want to know from the home minister what actions have been taken against those who are committing such heinous acts and tarnishing the image of the force," he said.