The decapitated body of Shumon Zahid, a witness in a war crimes case and son of martyred journalist Selina Parvin, was found in the capital's Khilgaon yesterday.
Railway police recovered the body from near railway tracks in Bagicha area of Khilgaon, around one kilometre off Shumon's Uttar Shahjahanpur house, around 11:30am.
Police suspect Shumon committed suicide while his family claims he was murdered in a planned way for giving testimony in a case against war criminals Chowdhury Mueen Uddin and Ashrafuzzaman Khan.
His brother-in-law ATM Enamul Haque Bulbul alleged that it was a planned murder.
Bulbul said someone called Shumon, 55, a senior executive at Shantinagar branch of Farmers Bank Ltd, out of home around 9:30am, and his body was found a couple of hours later.
Kazi Sarwar, another brother-in-law of Shumon, said he usually didn't go to Bagicha area. He used to go out for a half-an-hour walk around 7:30pm. He stopped going to office a few months ago because of some professional problems.
However, quoting witnesses, Yasin Faruk, officer-in-charge of Dhaka Railway Police Station at Kamalapur, said they primarily suspect it was a case of suicide.
He further said a 10-year-old girl named Nargis told them that when she along with several other children was playing near the railway tracks around 10:00am, Shumon came there and chatted with her and the other children.
“As a train was approaching, the man lay on the track. When I grabbed one of his legs to pull him off the track, he kicked me,” the OC quoted the girl as saying.
Anwar Hossain, assistant sub-inspector of Dhaka Railway Police Station, said he went to the spot on information from Shahjahanpur police that a body was spotted on railway tracks just before 10:00am.
“I found the severed head near the body next to railway tracks. I heard from the locals that the severed head lay on the track, and that someone picked it and put it near the body,” he told this correspondent at Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) where the body was taken for post-mortem around 3:00pm.
Following autopsy, Dr Sohel Mahmud, head of forensic medicine department at the DMC, said the nature of cuts in the body suggest those were caused by a train.
He further said there were bruises on his forehead, face and back, apparently for being hit by a train.
Sohel said they took samples from the body for viscera tests to ascertain the cause of death.
Shumon was the third prosecution witness in the war crimes case against Al-Badr leaders Mueen Uddin and Ashrafuzzaman.
In July 2013, he testified before the International Crimes Tribunal-2 that Mueen Uddin was among those who picked up his mother on December 13, 1971.
He also stated that both Mueen Uddin and Ashrafuzzaman were involved in the abduction and killing of several other intellectuals during the Liberation War.
Selina became the target of Al-Badr as many pro-liberation writers used to write in her weekly Sheelalipi. She used to spend the earnings from the weekly for treatment of wounded freedom fighters, Shumon told the tribunal.
On November 3, 2013, the tribunal-2 handed down death penalty to absconding Mueen Uddin and Ashrafuzzaman.
According to tribunal sources, Mueen Uddin is now in the UK while Ashrafuzzaman is in the US.
Shumon's family members said he had filed a general diary with police after receiving death threats, and police advised him to have a licensed pistol.
Kazi Bakhtiar Uddin, another brother-in-law of Shumon, said he had been receiving death threats since he testified in the war crimes case.
The last time he got threats was about a month ago.
Shahjahanpur police said Shumon lodged a GD with the police station on July 21 last year, seeking measures for his safety.
A patrol police team used to visit Shumon's house to enquire about his safety, they added.
Shumon is survived by his wife Kazi Dreak Shinda Zabin and two sons -- one is an eleventh grader and the other a seventh grader.
He had earlier worked for Channel 9 and AB Bank Ltd.
Towhid Reza Noor, son of martyred intellectual Serajuddin Hosain, said Al-Badr men abducted Shumon's mother when he was only eight.
“Since then we have witnessed his struggle. He continued his study with earnings from driving auto-rickshaw. He had gone through thick and thin ... There is no question of his committing suicide,” Towhid told reporters.
In the past, concerns were raised over security of witnesses in war crimes cases.
Mostafa Hawlader, 55, who testified against war criminal Delwar Hossain Sayedee, had been killed by Jamaat-Shibir men at his home on December 10, 2013, according to police.
Mostafa was from Hoglabunia village in Pirojpur, the home district of Sayedee.
His testimony had played a key role in the ICT's decision to hand down death sentence to Sayedee, whose followers threatened to take revenge.
Besides, on March 10 in 2013, police recovered the body of Ahmed Miraz, 50, younger brother of noted musician and freedom fighter Ahmed Imtiaz Bulbul, from near Kuril flyover in the city.
Police then said some passers-by informed them around 1:00am that a body was spotted near the Kuril railway line.
The victim's family suspected that Miraz was murdered.
Ahmed Imtiaz Bulbul was a prosecution witness in the war crimes case against former Jamaat chief Ghulam Azam.
Another prosecution witness, Wahidul Alam Junu, who testified against war criminal Salauddin Quader Chowdhury, also died in mysterious circumstances in February 2013.