Two death row militants flee from court premises in filmy style21 November 2022
Staff Reporter :
Two militants, who were sentenced to death for killing prominent Bangladeshi-American secular blogger Avijit Roy and his publisher, escaped from the premises of a crowded court in Dhaka on Sunday in a filmy style.
Unidentified bikers whisked away the convicts after their guards were subdued with a chemical spray, police said.
"When the police personnel were bringing out the convicts from the court, two motorbike riders came in and blinded them by spraying their faces and whisked away the convicts," Harun-or-Rashid, chief of Detective Branch (DB) of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP), told reporters. According to police and eyewitnesses, the convicts fled the court premises on motorbikes as their accomplices sprayed some chemical on policemen escorting them and created a smoke screen.
The eyewitnesses said the spray temporarily blinded only two policemen, suggesting that the convicts in the high-profile murder cases were being treated just like any other ordinary prisoners.
"The prisoners were just handcuffed, their legs were not shackled, a usual protective measure for dangerous criminals or militants," a court official said.
CCTV footage aired by TV channels showed two bikers wearing helmets carrying the two militants through a narrow road in front of the Dhaka Metropolitan Judges Court complex, while a plainclothesman was chasing them.
Hours after the incident, home minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal told reporters that a nationwide has been issued to recapture them and an investigation launched to ascertain how the event took place.
"We will investigate the incident and take proper action if anyone's negligence was found in this regard," he added.
Kamal further said border guards have been asked to remain vigilant so that the culprits cannot escape the country.
"We have launched a massive manhunt to recapture them and their helpers," a police spokesman told newsmen at the scene.
He said Moinul Hasan Shamim alias Samir alias Imran and Abu Siddiq Sohel -- both of whom were operatives of the outlawed terrorist group Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT) -- were brought to the court for indictment hearing in a different case when some unidentified mortorcycle-borne men whisked them away while they were being escorted to transition prison room.
Police said the two ABT operatives were sentenced to death last year for killing 42-year-old Bangladesh-born US secular blogger Roy and his publisher Faisal Arefin Dipan.
Avijit Roy, an outspoken critic of religious fundamentalism, was hacked to death with machetes by ABT militants just after he left a book fair at the Dhaka University on February 26, 2015. His wife Rafida Ahmed was also injured in the attack. The terrorist group also hacked to death his publisher Dipan in November the same year at his office at Dhaka's Shahbagh area.
Dhaka's Anti-Terrorism Special Tribunal court sentenced five militants to death in the Roy murder case, while eight Islamists were sentenced to death for killing Dipan.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh Police announced a bounty of Tk 20 lakh for clues leading to the arrest of two death-row convicts who were whisked away from the premises of a Dhaka court in capital Dhaka Sunday afternoon.
AIG of media, police headquarters, Md Manzur Rahman said that a reward of Tk 10 lakh each will be given to help arrest each of the convicts who escaped from the court. Besides, Bangladesh Police formed a five-member probe body in connection with the escaping of two death row convicts and members of banned militant group Ansar al-Islam from police custody.
The committee, headed by Additional Police Commissioner (crime and operation) of DMP, has been asked to submit its report within three working days, said a DMP press release.
Besides, police filed a case against 20 people over the incident. The case was filed with Kotwali police station on Sunday evening.
Officer-in-Charge of the police station Md Mizanur Rahman confirmed the matter to the media.