‘Rab framing me for robbery attempt’
According to the case statement, Rab arrested a man preparing to commit a robbery near a footbridge at Mayakanan in the capital's Sabujbagh at 6:10pm on February 15.
But according to security camera footage seen by these correspondents, the 26-year-old rickshaw puller named Mojaffor was walking near his home at 6:38pm that day on Dotala Masjid Road in Meradia, about three kilometres away from Mayakanan.
In the CCTV footage from Meradia, he was wearing the same pink hoodie seen in the mugshot provided to reporters by Rab after his arrest.
During a hearing of Mojaffor's petition for bail on February 28, a court listened to recorded phone calls between a Rab-3 officer and Mojaffor's mother Modhumala Begum and found discrepancies in the complaint.
The court ordered departmental action against Rab-3 Deputy Assistant Director Ikhtiar Hossain who filed the case.
In the order, Dhaka Metropolitan Magistrate Mehedi Hasan wrote that the Rab officer told the mother of the accused over the phone that her son was detained for accompanying drug addicts and hanging out with some "women of questionable character".
"But the man is accused of attempted robbery, and the record shows a cutter was recovered from him. This is suspicious," the magistrate added.
The list of seized items was made at 6:45pm, but the Rab member did not tell the mother about finding a cutter in her son's possession during the call around 10:45pm that day, reads the order.
When Mojaffor's mother repeatedly asked what her son had done, the Rab officer said something different.
It primarily appears to the court that the Rab personnel had an ulterior motive behind detaining him and showing on documents that he has been arrested in the case, reads the order.
The recorded calls heard in the court corroborate what the accused's mother has been saying, it reads, adding that the complainant has not been able to satisfactorily explain the discrepancies.
The magistrate directed the Rab director general to conduct a departmental investigation into the matter and take steps accordingly within 30 working days.
In one of the recorded calls produced before the court by Mojaffor's lawyer, Mojaffor was heard telling his mother that he was brought to the Rab office from Kamalapur.
Modumala said her son was arrested in a false case.
"Rab picked up my innocent son. He is the breadwinner of the family. The legal expenses are a major burden for us." she told The Daily Star.
After he walked out of jail on bail on March 1, Mojaffar said when he was detained, officers in plainclothes told him to pay Tk 10,000 if he wanted to be free.
He alleges that he was framed in the attempted robbery case because he failed to pay the money.
The case was filed on February 16 with Sabujbagh Police Station against Mojaffor and two other men named Hasan and Raju. A court sent them to jail the same day.
Just one and a half months later, Sub-Inspector Yakub Ali of the same police station pressed charges against the accused.
The charge sheet mostly echoed what was written in the complaint and said the accused were preparing to commit a robbery when they got arrested.
About the charge that Rab found a steel cutter from his possession, Mojaffor told The Daily Star that nothing like that happened.
"After taking us to their office, a Rab member brought something like cutters or knives before us," he said.
He added that he did not pull a rickshaw on February 15 as he felt unwell. He went to Kamalapur railway station around 7:30pm with Hasan to pick up a relative of Hasan.
"After reaching Kamalapur station, we had tea at a cup of tea stall outside the station. As we were walking on the footpath in front of the Eastern Kamalapur Commercial Complex, several men in plainclothes held us and forced us to go near Dhaka Railway Station Central Jame Masjid.
"I asked them why they detained me, but they did not reply. I also requested them repeatedly to release me, saying my family depends on my income, but would not listen."
He and Hasan were then forced to get into a white HiAce along with another man. They waited in the microbus for one and a half hours before being taken to a footbridge in Sabujbagh. From there, they were taken to the Rab-3 office in Shahjahanpur.
Noted rights activist Nur Khan said, "The Rab members, for whom a man was accused in a case, should be thoroughly investigated. Otherwise, an incident like this will become a disaster for the force one day."
He also urged the authorities to relieve Mojaffor from the case soon.
A hearing on the case will be held today.
Rab-3 Commanding Officer Lt Col Arif Mohiuddin Ahmed neither answered the phone when The Daily Star called him nor replied to text messages.
Mojaffar's lawyer HM Rohul Amin Mollah said, "The investigation officer pressed charges against my client without a proper investigation. If the case was properly investigated, Mojaffor would have been relieved from the charges."
Despite several attempts over the phone on April 12, The Daily Star could not reach Sub-inspector Yakub Ali for comments about his charge sheet.