Mostafa Kamal Majumder
The recovery of the handcuffed body of a Dhaka city unit BNP leader Rafiqul Islam Majumder from a field in Jhenidah on Saturday night came as a double shock to common people not only for the cold blooded murder by people identifying themselves as members of the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), but also because the handcuff bore the inscription ‘Police”.Although the RAB-6 unit commander in Jhenidah has denied the involvement of members of his battalion in the incident, ordinary people would refuse to accept the denial until RAB forces prove beyond doubt the veracity of their claim.
This is not the first time that relatives of victims complain of RAB’s involvement in
incidents and the latter denies. The enforced disappearance of Chowdhury Alam, Ward Commissioner of Ward No. 56 of Dhaka City Corporation and president of the BNP unit of the same ward on 25 June 2010 was also blamed on RAB that denied its involvement. The latest victim Rafiq was BNP’s general secretary of the same unit.
An attack launched on the Khilgaon residence of BNP leader Mirza Abbas during a hartal programme of the opposition in July 2010 by people wearing RAB jackets, and severe beating of members of the family including his old mother was similarly rejected as untrue. Television channels did air the video footage of the attack.
Notably, human rights groups have counted enforced disappearance of 156 people during the last four years. But unofficial count of people missing from their families put the figure at thousands, and most of such cases have remained either not-reported or families of the victims still believe they would return.
Rights groups in their report early this year said, in many cases, family members of the victims hold members of law enforcers responsible for such disappearances and deaths, although law enforcement agencies dismiss the allegations.
The enforced disappearance of former member of Parliament Elias Ali from the posh Gulshan residential area of Dhaka city on 17 April night last year has not been specifically blamed on any particular law-enforcing agency. His family sought the return of Elias from the government to no avail.
If RAB members did not pick up Rafiqul Islam from the Jhenidah house of his in-laws on late Saturday evening, then the responsibility of the law enforcing agencies is to unearth who were those people wearing RAB jackets and using police handcuff and befooling his relatives for the dastardly act of murder.
The statement of the Additional Police Commissioner of Jhenidah that handcuffs with the inscription ‘police’ were available in markets came not only as a surprise but also a great shock. The question that naturally arose was who were entitled to purchase such gears that are to be used only by member of law enforcing agencies.
From RAB’s side it has been confided that their members have been instructed to take videos of serious actions they take against suspects. But sources within the force also indicate that at lower command levels, the commission of crime without knowledge of senior and mid-level battalion bosses cannot be ruled out.
Whatever be the case the responsibility for the existence of elements, if any, abducting people by using name, dress and gears and even look-alike automobiles of law enforcing agencies falls squarely on the said agencies.
A section of newspapers have reported that the murder of Rafiqul Islam Majumder was the sequel to rivalry over ownership of shops at the Bangabazar Hawkers’ Market of which he was a vice president.
RAB should take the responsibility to to find out which elements are active to deminish its reputation as a fource whose members are expected to be people’s friends.
Mostafa Kamal Majumder