Two leaders of Islami Chhatra Shibir, pro-Jamaat-e-Islami student body, were killed in a “gunfight” with police in Jhenidah Sadar upazila early yesterday.
The dead are Shahid Al-Mahmud, 25, son of Rajab Ali Mollah of Badanpur village under Sadar upazila, and Anisur Rahman, 28, son of Abdus Sattar of Bhatpara village in Kushtia Sadar upazila.
Shahid was the president of Shibir Jhenidah Alia Madrasa unit, while Anisur was the president of its Jhenidah Polytechnic Institute.
Sources said Shahid and Anisur were friends.
Both Shahid and Anisur were suspects in the murder of last month's Hindu priest Ananda Gopal Ganguly, said Ajbahar Ali Sheikh, assistant superintendent of police (ASP) in Jhenidah.
At least four Shibir men, including Shahid and Anisur, were killed in Jhenidah in the last three months.
Around 22, including seven suspected militants, were killed in “shootouts” since police launched a special crackdown against militants after the murder of Mahmuda Khanam Mitu, wife of Superintendent of Police Babul Akter, in Chittagong on June 5.
A police team was patrolling on Tatultala-Naldanga road on Thursday night. Some criminals hurled four or five bombs at the police van around 3:30am, said ASP Ajbahar.
Police then returned fire, triggering the "gunfight". After the 20-minute gun battle, police found Shahid and Anisur dead on the spot.
Police also claimed to have recovered a firearm, two bullets, five sharp weapons and five crude bombs from the spot.
Shahid's cousin Altaf Hossain claimed that some plainclothes men who introduced themselves as detectives picked up Shahid from their home in Badanpur village on June 13.
Shahid's elder brother Abdur Rahim said they had contacted police and Rab several times after his brother had been picked up.
“We went to Sadar Police Station and wanted to know about my brother. But police said they had no information about him [Shahid]. Then we wanted to file a GD [general diary], but police refused to register it,” he told BBC Bangla Service.
The family also held a press conference at Jhenidah Press Club on June 18, said Farid Ahmed, maternal uncle of Shahid.
“His [Shahid] only fault was that he was a Shibir activist. There was no case against Shahid,” he claimed.
Now, police cooked up the gunfight story, he alleged.
Meanwhile, Anisur's family claimed that he was picked up by some plainclothes men from a house in the capital's Mohammadia Housing Society on June 16.
On Thursday, rights organisation, Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK), revealed that 79 people were killed either in "crossfire" with or while in the custody of law enforcement agencies over the first six months of 2016.
ASK acting executive director Nur Khan Liton told BBC Bangla that the number of such so-called “gunfights” had increased alarmingly in the last three months.
“Families of the missing people usually go to the law enforcers, but don't get any information about their relatives' detention. But we see that many of those missing are either killed or sent to jail later,” he added.