Killing of 3 Mirpur boys: 7 years on, no answer
On February 22, 2015, three adolescent boys were shot dead in the capital's Mirpur area during a violent political movement, on suspicion that they were arsonists linked to the opposition party.
The incident, at the height of months-long arson attacks on public transport across the country, made headlines as newspapers citing autopsy findings reported that their tender bodies bore at least 56 bullet injuries.
Seven years on, families of the victims were found in the dark about the fate of the two cases – one filed by the police after the incident and another by one family after they 'lost trust' in police investigation.
Police submitted the final report in May 2017, saying although it was a murder incident, they could not track down any of the perpetrators.
"The names and addresses of the perpetrators in connection with the incident could not be known and the possibility of finding their names and addresses and arresting them in the near future is very slim," said the final report submitted by Sub-Inspector Md Rafiquzzaman Mia of the Detective Branch (DB) of police, also the investigation officer.
The court subsequently accepted the report, which also said police would revive the case and press charges if they identified any of the suspects.
In the meantime, a Dhaka court "summarily dismissed" the murder case filed by one of the victims' family in April 2018, shows the court's register book. The family filed the case in December 2015 in the hope that the court would do justice.
However, none of the victims' families is aware of either of the two developments over the fate of the cases.
The three boys -- Sumon, Robin and Jewel -- were shot in a dark alley of Baishbari area in West Kazipara on the night of February 22, hours after some locals caught them on suspicion of preparing to firebomb public transport near Krishibid Bhaban on Begum Rokeya Sarani in Mirpur.
Families and locals said all three were aged between 14 and 15, although the police report put their age at 19 and 20.
Talking to the Daily Star recently, family members said no one contacted them to inform them about the submission of the final report or the court's rejection of their case.
"I went to the police station, to the court, and to many other places seeking justice. But I am yet to get any," said Jyotsna Robi Das, mother of Sumon, who filed the case with the court.
Mohammad Humayun Kabir, the family's lawyer, said the probe report was not submitted to the court till November 2017.
He said he did not follow the case after that.
"I want justice. But I don't know where to go to get justice," said Halim Khatun, Robin's grandmother who brought him up.
Noted criminal law expert Khurshid Alam Khan said the victims' families could file an appeal seeking further probe, but the families said they are too poor to pay for the expenses required for the legal battle.
Both Halima and Jyotsna earn their living by working as domestic workers.
PROBE IN QUESTION
In the probe report, the investigation officer mentioned that the three victims fell to the ground in an indiscriminate shooting by their associates targeting the chasing mob. They were later beaten by the mob before police rescued them and took them to Dhaka Medical College Hospital where they later died.
A group of 10 miscreants, including the victims, randomly fired on the local people when they (locals) chased them (miscreants) during their arson attack towards the cars with petrol and cocktail bombs in a violent hartal called by the BNP-led 20-party alliance, said the probe report.
However, several media outlets, quoting eyewitnesses, had reported at the time that no mob beating took place in Mirpur area that day.
The police report termed them "mischievous bombers" although there were no criminal records against them in the local police station.
At least 10 locals told The Daily Star late last month that the three boys had no criminal records, although they would sometimes join political gatherings.
Families said police were not sincere enough to investigate the case and find the killers.
In the seizure list of the case, for example, police did not include the bloodstained ropes believed to have been used in tying up the victims' hands, the cartridges or the bullets that were found by The Daily Star correspondents on the spot the morning after the incident.
Contacted, Mia Kutubur Rahman Choudhury, additional SP at the Police Bureau of Investigation, who oversaw the investigation, told The Daily Star on January 20 that he could not comment on the case without looking at the documents.
On January 5, 2015, the BNP and its allies launched a movement to dislodge the government, protesting the national election that the party had boycotted.
The violence, mostly arson attacks on public transport in Dhaka and other parts of the country, claimed at least 75 lives.
Around 7:00pm on February 22, locals caught the three victims suspecting them to be arsonists, said witnesses.
Later, around 10:00pm, some 10 to 12 locals took the boys to an alley of Baishbari area after tying up their hands, they added.
Several locals said they had seen police carrying away the three bullet-riddled bodies from an alleyway there.
A woman, who lives in a building beside the alley, said there was no mob there.
"There was no crowd. I only heard multiple gunshots rock the area with brief pauses in-between," she said.
At least a dozen other locals supported her version of the event.
However, police told the media after the incident that they found the three critically injured boys in a mob beating at Kazipara, and they died at DMCH in the early hours of February 23.
The police case filed on the same day said three "unidentified arsonists" were beaten and shot to death by a mob.