Ilias missing: 10 years gone, no trace yet
"We, the family members of the victims of enforced disappearance, have been leading a miserable life. We want our loved ones to be returned soon for the sake of the families and also to identify the perpetrators behind these grave human rights violations," said Tahsina Rushdir Luna, wife of former BNP lawmaker M Ilias Ali.
Ilias, then organising secretary of Sylhet division BNP, and his driver Ansar went missing from the capitals' Banani area on the night of April 17, 2012. Since then their families have been facing anxious wait for their return home.
It is very uncertain whether they will have any remedy from either the court or law enforcement agencies, as they (agencies) have informed the High Court through swearing affidavits that they did not pick up or detain the two.
Speaking to The Daily Star on Friday, Tahsina said, "I along with my family members and the people of Bangladesh believe that the government subjected my husband Ilias Ali to enforced disappearance. It is also an open secret that the disappearances of my husband and those of the other BNP leaders were carried out by the law enforcement agencies of Bangladesh.
"Human rights organisations and international bodies along with countries like the UK, the USA have time and again requested the authorities to bring back the victims. We have tried our best and made our best efforts to reach the top individuals of the government but they have literally turned a blind eye to it this situation by blaming the victims themselves without ensuring justice in any of the disappearance cases."
Tahsina said she was running her family with her pension money.
Ilias' wife filed a writ petition with the HC on April 19, 2012 claiming that law enforcers illegally kept her husband in detention. She sought HC orders on them to produce her husband before it.
In response, the HC issued a rule upon the law enforcement agencies to explain within 10 days why they should not be directed to produce Ilias before it or prove that he was not detained by them.
The HC is yet to start holding hearing on the rule as neither the petitioner nor the state has taken any initiative in this regard and therefore, the matter remains unresolved.
However, five law enforcement agencies submitted reports to the HC claiming that Ilias was not in their custody since they did not pick up or detain him, said sources at the attorney general's office.
In May, 2012, five law enforcement agencies submitted as many reports to the HC in line with the rule issued by it on April 19.
In those reports, the agencies claimed the BNP leader was not in their custody since they did not pick up or detain him.
The reports, prepared by the offices of the inspector general of police (IGP), Rapid Action Battalion (Rab), Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Special Branch (SB) of police, and Banani Police Station, claimed that they were making all necessary efforts to establish Ilias' whereabouts.
Following Ilias' case, several others were moved before the HC, seeking necessary directives on the authorities concerned over incidents of enforced disappearance, but no order has yet been issued by the court as a remedy for such incidents.
AM Mahbub Uddin Khokon, the lawyer representing Ilias' wife, earlier told this correspondent that he did not take any initiative for holding hearing on the HC rule considering that no remedy would be available as the law enforcement agencies told the court that they did not detain the BNP leader.
Contacted on Friday, Law Minister Anisul Huq told The Daily Star, "I don't know anything about Ilias Ali. So I will not make any comment on this issue."
Attorney General AM Amin Uddin also refused to make any comment on the writ petition filed by Ilias' wife, saying that he did not know anything about the case.
Eminent jurist Shahdeen Malik said, "If the government keeps denying that incidents of disappearance and extrajudicial killings have occurred, our relations with the West will not improve."
The number of such incidents has dropped in the last few months after a sanction was imposed, he told this newspaper on Friday.
Shahdeen, also a rights activist, said it is uncertain whether the victims' families would have any remedy from the court as the law enforcers say they have not detained or picked up the victims.