Police in paradox

by William Gomes

(February 16, Dhaka, Sri Lanka Guardian) Kazi Imtiaz Hossain Abir, a student of higher secondary level at the Northern College at Mohammadpur was killed in a so called "Cross Fire" in the capital.

There were flows of news in news media on the issue which raised the question of why Abir was killed? When I started in-depth investigation I found another question. Apart from 'why' he was killed the question is now where Abir was killed?

I have found inconsistencies in the documents related to the incident of Abir's extrajudicial murder. The police submitted a "Death Certificate" with its forwarding placed before the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Court of Dhaka through the Deputy Commissioner (Prosecution), a police officer, of the Metropolitan Court. The Death Certificate was issued by Dr. Nurul Islam of the National Institute of Trauma and Orthopedic Rehabilitation (NITOR) of Dhaka. It does not assert the cause of death although it mentions that "there is a penetrating injury on the medial aspect of the right lower thigh about (2cm X 2cm)".

According to the Death Certificate, the time of death was "10pm (probably)" and the age of Abir was recorded as "24" while the columns of 'father's name' and 'address' were filled in with "unknown" in the Death Certificate.

But, in the forwarding the Investigation Officer (IO) Sub Inspector (SI) Mr. Hekmat Ali claims that Abir was sent to the Dhaka Medical College Hospital for treatment after his bullet wounds. In the seizure list and FIR Abir's age was shown as "28". In all the three complaints address of the crime scene has been written with pen although the whole document is composed in computer.

So now it's a question of where Abir was killed ?

The Pallabi police filed three cases against Abir regarding the incident. According to the documents regarding the cases, Assistant Sub Inspector (ASI) Mr. Md. Ismail Hossain (Badge No. 7695016392) filed the first complaint as First Information Report (FIR) no. 27 with the Pallabi Police Station at 11:05pm on 10 January under Section 19 (A) of Arms Act of 1878. Only Abir was named as the accused with four-five unidentified persons. Sub Inspector (SI) Hekmot Ali was assigned as the Investigation Officer (IO) by the Officer-in-Charge (OC) of the Pallabi police Mr. Md. Iqbal Hossain.

The police ASI Ismail Hossain claims in the FIR no. 27 that the OC of the Pallabi police informed a police patrol team led by him about a gather of five-six persons prior to a possible robbery. He, accompanying Police Constable (ID No. 2557) Md. Mazibor and Md. Saidur Rahman (ID No. 19883), went to Balurmath area, which was the alleged place of the gathering, found that indiscriminate gunshots were fired toward the police, who immediately returned fire in self-defence. All the "terrorists" fled the scene and hid in darkness. The police found one critically-injured person, who was bleeding at the time from his bullet wounds. He was holding a revolver in his right hand. The person told the officers his name as "Abir (28)" before losing consciousness. They sent Abir to a hospital (which was not named) with critical injuries. A revolver with two loaded bullets and two empty cartridges was recovered from the crime scene at 9:25pm on 10 January 2011 in presence of three persons – namely Mr. Md. Jainal Chairman (48), son of late Mr. Rajab Ali Sikder, living in Kalshi Balur Math slum, under Block-11/C (lower to the dam); Mr. Sahabuddin (45), son of late Mr. Osman Ali, living in House # 19, Lane # 7, Bauniabandh, under Block-C; and Mr. Aziz Chairman (50), son of late Mr. Surut Ali Munshi, living in a house adjacent to the Mosque of Balurmath slam, under Section-12/A of the Pallabi police station. The police took signatures from the three "witnesses" on the seizure list. They claim that ASI Ismail and constable Saidur were injured (without any details about their injuries) and received first aid from "Adhunik Hospital", which referred them to the Rajarbag Police Hospital for further treatment.

In the second and third cases recorded as FIRs no. 28 under Sections 353, 332,333 of the Penal Code-1860; and FIR no. 29 under Sections 399,402, 302 of the Penal Code-1860 respectively with the same language and texts in the complaints except the difference of legal provisions of the penal code. SI Md. Yasin Munshi and SI Md. Ezajul Islam were made IOs for those two cases respectively.

Professionals related to the forensic examination of dead bodies told the human rights defenders that the shot fired at Abir's right thigh had been done at close range.

Abir's relatives, including his father Mr. Golam Farukh and mother Mrs. Monowara, said that Abir's cell phone has not been returned to the family and is not included in the seizure list. They expressed their complete frustration over the criminal justice system to defend their decision of not registering a complaint regarding the extrajudicial murder of Abir. They asked questions: have authorities ever prosecuted any personnel of the law-enforcement agencies despite the fact that a large number of innocent persons have been murdered? They argued that there are a number of wanted criminals in the city whom the people want to see behind bars. They want legal action against the police who have failed to arrest them for years. They demand answers as to why an innocent student, who did have not a single complaint against him with any police station or court of the country, should be killed and publicized as a robber. Does the government ever feel how deeply shocked and infuriated people are about these lawless murders by the government's own agents?

Even recently the prime minister has spoken out against extra judicial killings. The foreign minister has said extrajudicial killing have become almost part of the system and it cannot be changed overnight.

Recently extraordinarily Home Minister Sahara Khatun in public blamed human rights organizations for "siding with the criminals" and claimed that no extra-judicial killing has taken place during the tenure of the present government.

Now the open question before the nation is: where was Abir killed?

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