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Cops probing, people sceptical

Bangladesh on 09 May 2014
Location : Narayanganj, Bangladesh | Source : The Daily Star; image source: flickr user Alan Cleaver

The police officer probing the murder of seven people in Narayanganj was replaced yesterday in the wake of a controversy over his alleged links with the prime accused in the murder case.

Inspector Abdul Awal of the Detective Branch of police is no longer the investigation officer of the case, Narayanganj Superintendent of Police Khandaker Mahid Uddin told The Daily Star last night.

Mamunur Rashid Mondol, officer-in-charge of the Monohardi Police Station in Narsingdi, will take over as the IO, he said.   
Asked about the reason behind the replacement, the SP said it was done to ensure a fair and effective probe into the abduction and murder of the seven, including Narayanganj panel mayor Nazrul Islam.

DB officials said Mondol would take up his new assignment today.

There has been a controversy over the police probe following allegations that Awal has close ties with Narayanganj ward councillor Nur Hossain, the main accused in the murder case.

Locals in Siddhirganj say Awal became close to Hossain, a local Awami League leader, when he was posted at the Siddhirganj Police Station about four years back.

On condition of anonymity, several officers of the police station also confirmed this to The Daily Star yesterday.

Asked, Mahbubur Rahman, officer-in-charge of Narayanganj DB, said he was unaware of any relations between Awal and Hossain.
Awal received Hossain's blessing during his stint as sub-inspector in Siddhirganj, and maintained close links with the local AL leader even after his transfer to the DB office in Narayanganj, said a number of locals.

“Awal addresses Hossain as mama [uncle],” said a resident of Mijmiji area, asking not to be named.

Many locals said such close ties between the IO and the main accused would harm the police investigation.
Awal, however, claimed that he has no links with Hossain.

Contacted, the police officer said he first came to know Hossain on May 6 last year while he was investigating the deaths of Border Guard Bangladesh jawans in clashes with Hefajat-e Islam men in Siddhirganj. And he met Hossain as part of the investigation.

On Tuesday, three Rab officials were dismissed from the services for their alleged involvement in the abductions and killings after Nazrul's father-in-law Shahidul Islam alleged that some Rab members abducted and murdered Nazrul in exchange for Tk 6 crore.

The Rab officials are Lt Col Tareque Sayeed Mohammad, Maj Arif Hossain and Lt Commander SM Masud Rana. Tareque is son-in-law of Disaster Management and Relief Minister Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury Maya.

None of the six accused in the murder case could be arrested even a week after six bodies, including that of Nazrul, were found floating in the Shitalakkhya river. Another body was recovered from the river on May 1.

On April 27, Nazrul and his four aides, senior lawyer Chandan Sarker and his driver were abducted almost at the same time after they left the court area by two cars in Narayanganj.

PROBE BODY FORMED

Complying with a High Court order, the government yesterday formed a seven-member committee to see whether Rab members or any other law enforcers were involved in the abductions and murders.

The probe body, headed by Additional Secretary to the public administration ministry Md Shahjahan Ali Mollah, will also investigate if there was any negligence on the part of the law enforcers in rescuing the victims, said Secretary to the ministry Kamal Abdul Naser Chowdhury.

The committee with two officials each from the public administration, law and home ministries will submit a progress report to the HC within a week.

However, the home ministry was yet to respond to the National Human Rights Commission's request to set up a three-member committee by yesterday to investigate the murders in Narayanganj.

In a letter to the ministry on Tuesday, the NHRC suggested making a retired judge the head of the probe body with a retired senior police officer and a prominent human rights activist as its members.

VICTIMS WERE STRANGLED

All the seven victims were first hit in the head and then strangled with ropes, say their post-mortem reports.

The victims were killed 48 to 72 hours before the post-mortem, conducted between April 30 night and the next morning, said Dulal Chandra Chowdhury, civil surgeon of General (Victoria) Hospital in Narayanganj.

All the victims were killed in the same manner, indicating that the killers were trained and professional.

The killers had cut the victims' bellies below the navel to make sure that the corpses did not float, said the report.
Dulal received the reports yesterday from Dr Asaduzzaman Miah, chief of the medical board that conducted the post-mortem.
Talking to journalists at his Secretariat office yesterday, State Minister for Home Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal claimed that there was satisfactory progress in the probe.

“The investigation in the murder case is at the final stage. We hope to disclose everything before the nation soon.”
He said the main accused are holed up inside the country and will be arrested soon.

On the dismissal of three Rab officials for their alleged involvement in the abductions and killings, Kamal said whoever is found guilty will be punished.

Rab has many successes, and cannot be tainted because of anyone, he added.

In another development, police seized three firearms belonging to Hossain and his aides, raiding the houses of the ward councillor's followers in Siddhirganj.

Earlier, the licence of these firearms had been cancelled.

On Tuesday, police seized two shotguns in a raid on the houses of Hossain's elder brother Nur Uddin and his bodyguard Jamal.

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