It was a dreadful day for the Brahmanbaria trader. He was picked up by the Rapid Action Battalion-14 on April 29 from his Nabinagar home and was taken to its Bhairab camp in Kishoreganj.
Rab members there inflicted serious torture on Shahnur Alam between 11:00pm and 1:00am that night. They poured hot water on the 43-year-old, inserted eggs into his rectum, applied electric shocks to his elbows and kicked in his lower abdomen.
Shahnur narrated his agonising ordeal to his family members at the hospital in Comilla District Jail on May 5, a day before dying of his wounds at the hospital, his younger brother Mehedi Hasan told a discussion at the Jatiya Press Club yesterday.
Maulik Adhikar Suraksha Committee hosted the event marking the UN Human Rights Day. Family members of some 20 victims of torture, forced disappearance and other human rights violations, mostly by law enforcers, were present.
The Rab on April 30 handed over Shahnur to Nabinagar Police Station. The following day, police sent him to Brahmanbaria jail through a local court.
On May 4, he was shifted to the hospital in Comilla jail. Shahnur's family members visited him at the hospital the next day.
Mehedi on June 1 filed a case with Magistrate Nazmun Nahar's court in Brahmanbaria. The court ordered the police to probe the case, but the magistrate was withdrawn the following day.
He later moved the High Court with a writ petition, seeking its directives to probe the case. The HC is scheduled to hold a hearing on the writ today.
The plaintiff said various quarters have been threatening him over the phone with life. “Through my relatives and acquaintances, those quarters are offering me Tk 30 lakh to Tk 40 lakh for withdrawing the case.”
Indigenous community leader Sohel Hazong said they recorded 67 incidents of rights violation of indigenous people last year. He feared the figure might get bigger this year.
“Even a union parishad member couldn't protect herself from being victimised. If a public representative is not safe from rights violation, what would be the fate of the common people?” he questioned.
According to a report of Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK), 250 people were abducted reportedly by law enforcers between 2007 and 2013. At least 68 people were picked up last year alone.
In the first 10 months of this year, as many as 118 people were killed in “shootouts between their cohorts and law enforcers”. Last year, the country saw 208 extrajudicial killings, said another ASK study.
Expressing grave concern over human rights in the country, rights activists said the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) was not taking effective steps to stop rights violation.
Columnist Syed Abul Maksud said the commission didn't probe the rights violation incidents properly. Its officials are rather busy in making statements and speeches.
He blamed political conflict and violence for forced disappearances and extrajudicial killings.
Noted jurist Shahdeen Malik said if found guilty of violating human rights, members of the law enforcement agencies concerned must be withdrawn from the force.
The opposition men have been facing the problem now and the ruling party men might face a similar fate in future if the government does not curb such crimes, he warned.
Shahdeen demanded formation of a judicial commission by February 21 next to probe all the incidents of forced disappearances and extrajudicial killings. The government should set up a separate commission to probe rights violations of religious minorities, he added.
Mahmudur Rahman Manna, convener of Nagorik Oikya, said the worst incident of human rights violation in Bangladesh occurred on January 5 when the incumbent prime minister “snatched the rights of franchise of 16 crore people”.
Barrister Sara Hossain sought intervention of the Supreme Court in probing rights violation to ensure justice for the victims and their families.
Sakhawat Hossain, president of Narayanganj Bar Association, said the government might not be interested in bringing back Noor Hossain, prime accused in the Narayanganj seven-murder case, as it would unmask many godfathers. The accused fled to India and is now behind bars in Kolkata.
Speaking at a programme at the Teacher-Student Centre (TSC) of Dhaka University, NHRC Chairman Prof Mizanur Rahman said building a better society would not be possible without ensuring human rights for all. He demanded the state take a strong stance against the perpetrators of rights violation.
BNP acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir alleged that human rights in Bangladesh was on the verge of obliteration as the state itself was snatching people's rights away.
“When the whole world is making all-out efforts to protect human rights, Bangladesh remains an exception as people's basic rights here are being snatched away by the state every day,” he told a press conference at the party's Nayapaltan central office.
Different rights bodies and civil society platforms in the morning brought out a procession from the TSC which ended at the Central Shaheed Minar.
The UN general assembly in 1950 had proclaimed December 10 as the Human Rights Day. This year's slogan, Human Rights 365, encompasses the idea that every day is a Human Rights Day.