Staff Reporter :
Md Hanif Mridha, an Ashkona attack suspect whom the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) claimed to have died in hospital on Saturday after picking up by the law enforcers on February 27, family sources said.
The 27-year old Hanif Mridha is a resident of Amragachhia village of Amtali upazila in Barguna, was basically a business man.
Family sources claimed that Hanif had been picked up by law enforcers 22 days back and put pressure to sign in checks. But after the Ashkona incident, family members came to know that the law enforcers shown him fresh arrest in connection to the incident.
"The law men forced Hanif to sign several pages of the cheque books of BRAC and Dutch-Bangla banks for a sum of Tk 670,000," they further claimed.
According to the statement of the RAB, Hanif was detained from a bush beside Munmun Kabab shop in Khilkhet at 4:15pm on Friday when he was trying to flee as a RAB vehicle was going past the spot after the city's Ashkona RAB office attack.
Hanif's wife Kulsum Begum on Sunday said that Hanif and his friend Sohel Hossain Mantu went to Barisal to join the religious congregation of Charmonai Pir (religious leader) on 24 February and returned to Dhaka on 27 February by launch. They got down from the launch at Kanchpur bridge in the capital and our family driver Jewel went there with our car to pick them up. But he saw about 7-8 people, who identified themselves as Detective Branch (DB) officials, whisking them off to the car." "While several others got in our car and instructed driver Jewel at gunpoint to run the car to the direction they showed. As our car reached Purbachal, they later dropped him and took away our car after beating our driver," claimed Kulsum. His friend Sohel, who is still missing, has furniture business in the capital's Gulshan-2, according to her.
Hanif, a resident of Amragachhia village of Amtali upazila in Barguna, was involved in transport business, having three buses in the Turag transport service in Dhaka, she claimed.
Hanif's brother Halim Mridha filed a General diary (GD) on March 4 with Siddhirganj Police Station in connection with the incident, she added.
Halim told the reporter that a white-coloured car of RAB-1 and a white-coloured Hiace car came to their Rayerbazar residence around 9:30am on March 15.
"RAB-1's white-car stood at the entry of Shah Ali's lane and the Hiace car was parked in front of the gate of our residence. Four to five people entered our house along with Hanif and told Kulsum in front of other family members, 'Your husband has assisted an unfair act'," claimed victim's brother.
Halim said that the RAB member impersonators later asked his sister-in-law to bring Hanif's cheque books before them. "They forced Hanif to sign several pages of the cheque books of BRAC and Dutch-Bangla banks for an amount of Tk 670,000 in total," he claimed.
Hanif's brother-in-law Rezaul Islam said, "One of the four-to-five people [who visited Hanif's house on 15 March] was in RAB uniform and was carrying arms. The nameplate attached with his uniform read 'Iqbal'.
He said the other members of the team didn't introduce themselves. They went back along with Hanif. "They also took away a motorbike of Pulsar brand which was kept in the house," claimed Rezaul. The family members came to know through television news that someone called Hanif died in Kurmitola Hospital on Friday and then they rushed to the hospital. The family members confirmed the identity of Hanif after Airport police station's inspector (investigation) Ezaz Shafi showed them a photo of the body.
Besides, Sohel's maternal uncle Md Babu said that Sohel, a man from the village of Chhoto Baizraat of Barguna's Taltali, used to live in Jatrabari's Dhalpur in the capital.
Sohel's uncle said his nephew was still missing.
Airport Station Police Inspector Ezaz Shafi said, RAB-1 members picked up Hanif from a bush beside Munmun Kabab shop near Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport at 4:15pm on Friday. According to the death certificate, Hanif died of cardiac arrest, and the body was sent to Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) morgue for an autopsy on Saturday, the Inspector said. DMCH sources said the Airport police members brought the body of Hanif Mridha around 5:00am while four vehicles of RAB also accompanied.
Earlier on Friday, a suicide bomber rattled the Ashkona RAB office, killing himself by detonating a bomb.
RAB's Legal and Media Wing director Mufti Mahmud Khan said a young man was trying to enter the camp and when the RAB members challenged him, he detonated the bomb that was strapped to his body.
The blast killed him on the spot and injured two RAB members. RAB-1's Lieutenant Colonel Sarowar Bin Quashem claimed that Hanif was taken to Kurmitola General Hospital after he felt chest pain while he was being taken to RAB office. He was said to have died at the hospital.
Rights body Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK) on Monday demanded a judicial enquiry over the death of Hanif Mridha in RAB custody.
The demand came in the backdrop of an allegation made by Hanif's family that he was actually picked up by a group of people claiming to be detectives in Siddhirganj area last month.
"We demand a judicial probe into this matter," said ASK in a press statement signed by its acting executive director Nur Khan. Earlier on Friday, suicide bomber blew himself up near a temporary camp of the RAB in Ashkona Hajj Camp area of the capital in the afternoon. An attacker was killed and two RAB officials have been injured in the incident.