Untangle the mystery behind Cumilla councillor killing
The shocking murder of Syed Ahmed Sohel—a ward councillor of Cumilla City Corporation—and his associate Haripada Das, has left us deeply concerned about the current state of politics in the country, especially at the local level. So far, we have little concrete information regarding the killings, but the implications of such a daring attack are likely to be far-reaching. According to a report in this daily, masked gunmen, dressed in black, stormed into the ward councillor's office on Monday and started firing almost immediately, killing the two men and injuring five others, before making a quick getaway on their motorcycles. While the reasons behind the killings are not yet known, it is clear that the attacks were premeditated and planned extensively.
This is not the first time that Cumilla City Corporation has witnessed such violence. According to a Prothom Alo report, in November last year, a Jubo League leader who had contested in the 2017 city corporation elections as a councillor candidate was hacked to death; and in November 2018, a Chhatra League leader, who had also contested in the same elections, was shot dead in the streets. While there is no indication yet from law enforcement regarding whether these deaths are in any way related, we hope the authorities will, during investigations, take into consideration the fact that those killed in recent years were all connected to the city's local political administration in some way.
According to anonymous sources, there was a rivalry between Sohel and another group over establishing supremacy in the area, which was directly linked with the control of the area's drug trade and extortion rackets. Although The Daily Star was unable to verify this claim independently, the almost professional style of Monday's murders means the involvement of organised crime cannot be discounted. Media reports have also suggested a potential link to intra-party conflict and the struggle to establish dominance in the area. Most recently, Sohel's name came up after the communal violence in Cumilla during Durga Puja, since the man who was accused of provoking the attacks by placing the Holy Quran on a puja mandap was a tenant in one of Sohel's houses.
There are clearly a number of elements at play here, and we hope the authorities will do their utmost in untangling this web of mystery and getting to the bottom of Monday's horrific murders. The fact that such a brazen attack could be conducted in broad daylight, and against members of the political administration, raises serious questions about the law and security situation in Cumilla city, which must be addressed urgently. At the same time, we urge the government to investigate any alleged links of local leaders in criminal activities like drug trafficking and extortion, and to ensure that party rivalries and power politics do not lead to situations where lives are lost and the safety of the general public is threatened. Such contemptible activities put the very fabric of political life at risk, and strong steps must be taken to ensure they are rooted out from politics.