Man dies in police custody
A tea stall owner died while he was being interrogated in a room of Hatibandha Police Station in Lalmonirhat on Friday. The CCTV camera in that room was not working when it happened.
Relatives and locals alleged that the man, Himanshu Roy, 36, was tortured to death.
Hatibandha police denied the allegation and said he died by suicide as he hung himself from the window grilles using a cable.
Himanshu was taken into custody for questioning after law enforcers recovered the body of his wife Sabitri Rani, 30, in Purba Kadma Maldahpara village of the upazila on Friday morning. Sabitri allegedly died by suicide.
"He was only interrogated. He was not tortured in any way," Ershadul Alam, officer-in-charge of the police station, said, adding that he was kept in the women and children help desk's room.
Replying to a question, he said 10 CCTV cameras were installed in and outside the station, but only three were functional. "One of them is in my room while the other two are in the duty officer's room and outside the station."
He said all the other cameras had been out of service since he joined the station one and half years ago. "I had alerted the higher authorities about this, but no steps have been taken."
Abida Sultana, superintendent of police in the district, said she knew that the station had 10 CCTV cameras.
"It's mandatory for places like the interrogation cells and the armouries to have working CCTV cameras."
She added that a three-member team has been formed to find out why the cameras were not working.
Police took Himanshu's body to Hatibandha Upazila Health Complex around 4:00pm on Friday. It was kept in their custody till late Friday night until when no relatives and journalists were allowed to see it.
As the news spread, locals started crowding the hospital as well as the police station.
Himanshu's father Bisheshwar Barman was also brought to the police station for questioning on Friday. He was released around noon, said the law enforcers.
Bisheshwar's brother Digendra Nath Roy said Himanshu was completely healthy when he was taken to the police station and that he was not somebody to ever consider suicide.
"I am also not finding my brother," Bisheshwar told The Daily Star.
Hirambar Roy, resident medical officer of Hatibandha Upazila Health Complex, told our Lalmonirhat correspondent that bruises were found on Himanshu's neck, but the cause of death would be determined only after an autopsy.
A statement by Manabadhikar Shongskriti Foundation, signed by eminent human rights activist Sultana Kamal, said the police explanation is "not in any way believable".
"We demand an impartial investigation into the incident. Swift steps should be taken against those involved," said the statement, circulated to the media.