Rab probing ‘false’ case it drafted

Families of the accused doubt they’ll get justice
Jama'atul Ansar

The Rab unit, whose members allegedly framed eight Mirpur teenagers for extortion, has now taken over the charge of investigation from Pallabi police.

Family members of the accused, including a 15-year-old son of an enforced disappearance victim, have expressed doubts about getting justice as Rab-4 itself is now tasked with the probe.

"They [Rab-4 officials] framed the boys and now they are investigating the case. How will we get justice then?" questioned Shahida Begum, mother of an accused.

Family members of the complainant, Nazmul Hossain Bappy, said they were under "huge pressure" from the elite force since it took charge of the probe.

They said Rab-4 members took Bappy's father Abdul Barek to its office and recorded his statement to "their liking" after The Daily Star on July 25 ran a report headlined "Bike accident turned into extortion case".

On that very day, Rab-4 received the case documents from Pallabi Police Station.

On March 7 evening, Barek, 60, was injured after being hit by a teenager's motorcycle in the capital's Mirpur-12. However, the statement of a case, drafted by Rab-4 three days later, tells a very different story. There is no mention of the accident or the biker.

The Rab accused five college students and three more teenagers, including two schoolchildren, from the same neighbourhood of beating and injuring Barek, a tea vendor, and extorting Tk 40,500 from him.

Barek, his family members and witnesses told The Daily Star that they had no idea about the alleged assault and extortion.

Rab-4 in June applied to the home ministry's Public Security Division, seeking to take the responsibility of the case investigation.

On July 3, the Crime Division of Dhaka Metropolitan Police wrote to the deputy commissioner (Mirpur division) to transfer the investigation from Pallabi Police Station to Rab-4, according to case documents submitted to the court.

Asked about this, Rab-4 Commanding Officer Mozammel Haque said they received the case documents.

"We will now investigate this case. We have talked to the plaintiff," he told The Daily Star earlier this month.

On July 31, Rab-4 Sub-Inspector Monirul Islam, investigation officer of the case, applied to a Dhaka court for permission to record Barek's statement under section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure as a "neutral witness".

The IO in his prayer said, "Barek was run over by a recklessly driven motorbike of five college students and the five then hit him with locally made weapons, breaking his arm."

However, Barek earlier told this newspaper that he fainted after the motorbike hit him that day and locals took him to a nearby hospital. Several witnesses also gave the same description of the incident.

Bappi, the plaintiff of the case, said he wanted to file a case over the accident, seeking compensation, and that he only signed the case statement drawn up by Rab.

He alleged that the elite force kept him and five of the accused in the Rab-4 office in Mirpur's Paikpara for about 24 hours before they were all taken to Pallabi Police Station for filing the already drafted case and handover of the five accused to police.

The police station recorded the case on March 10.

Hours after filing of the case, Bappi filed an affidavit with a Dhaka court, saying, "The case was filed following a misunderstanding with the five college students. Later, the plaintiffs and the accused reached a settlement, mediated by some locally respectable persons. The plaintiff will have no objection if the accused are freed on bail and subsequently acquitted of the charges."

Speaking to this correspondent recently, Bappi said Rab-4 had been putting pressure on him ever since The Daily Star published the report.

"They have already recorded a statement of my father to their liking. Officials of Rab-4 came to our house looking for me in plainclothes," he alleged.

Monirul Islam, who is now investigating the case, told The Daily Star yesterday that there is no such pressure on the plaintiff or his family. "The allegation is baseless."

He added, "We are investigating the case. Recently, we took a statement from the plaintiff's father under section 161 of CrPC."

Meanwhile, sources said the Rab Headquarters has launched an "internal enquiry" into the allegations. Investigators from the Rab's intelligence unit have talked to the plaintiff, his father, witnesses, accused and their family members recently.