One year on, justice for Raihan’s death in custody still remains elusive

Even though one year has elapsed since the shocking death of Raihan Ahmed in ‘custody’, his family members are worried as there has been little progress in starting the trial of the sensational case to bring the offenders to justice.

The slow pace in the investigation has led to frustration among Raihan’s family members as they are still on the streets demanding justice.

On Sunday afternoon, the day before the one-year death anniversary, Raihan’s mother and wife took part in a human chain here with Raihan’s one and a half years’ old baby girl, Alfa, in the lap of one of the participants, demanding justice for the murder.

Family’s frustration

At the human chain, Raihan’s frustrating mother, Salma Begum, and wife, Tahmina Akhter Tani, demanded that the trial of Raihan’s murder be disposed of as soon as possible.

Salma Begum said, “Even though most of the accused were arrested, we’re disappointed over the delay in submitting the chargesheet. The case could be shifted to a Speedy Trial Tribunal, if necessary.”

Tani said Abdullah Al Noman, one of the accused, is still on the run and he might have fled the country. “The authorities should immediately trace him and do whatever is needed to bring him back if he’s hiding abroad,” she said.

Departmental probe doesn’t end

Nine departmental cases were filed against nine policemen, including SI Akbar, over the death in custody.

Unfortunately, the investigation into these cases could not be completed even in one year, giving an impression that the accused are getting away with just temporary suspensions.

Asked about it, Deputy Commissioner (North) of the Sylhet Metropolitan Police Azbahar Ali Sheikh said, “This is being investigated internally by the police. The allegations against the accused are being analyzed. The testimonies of some people have already been recorded in addition to taking the statements of the accused.”

The investigation report against them will be sent to the police department and action will be taken against them as per the departmental law, he added.

A Sylhet court on September 30 accepted the chargesheet against six people, including suspended sub-inspector and prime accused Akbar Hossain Bhuiya, in Raihan Ahmed’s death case.

The court also issued warrants for arresting fugitive accused Abdullah Al Noman, who had allegedly helped Akbar flee the country, said Sylhet Metropolitan Police inspector Pradeep Chandra Das.

The other four accused in the case are sub-inspector Hasan Ali, assistant sub-inspector Ahshque Elahi, and constables Harunur Rashid and Titu Chandra Das of Bandarbazar police outpost.

The court fixed November 2 for hearing the case.

On May 5, the Police Bureau of Investigation (PBI) submitted the chargesheet in the case.

How Raihan died

Raihan was allegedly beaten to death in police custody on October 11, 2020.

Raihan called his mother from an unknown number in the early hours of October 11 and told her that police took him to the Bandarbazar outpost and demanded Tk 10,000 for his release.

Later in the day, his uncle rushed to the police outpost with Tk 5,000 but the cops allegedly refused to accept the bribe and asked him to return after arranging Tk 10,000.

Raihan’s uncle then again went to the Bandarbazar police outpost with the money but was told that his nephew had fallen sick and taken to a hospital.

When his uncle went to the hospital, he came to know that Raihan had died and his body had been sent for post-mortem.

Turning down the allegations of custodial torture, police then said Raihan was caught by locals in the Kastghar area during a robbery and had been lynched.

Raihan’s autopsy report revealed over 100 injury marks on his body and two of his nails were also pulled out.

The news of Raihan’s death triggered massive protests by locals as they blocked the Sylhet-Sunamganj Highway, demanding action against the accused cops.

On October 12 last year, Raihan’s wife, Tanni, filed a complaint at the Kotwali police station, following which an FIR was registered against unidentified people.

Four policemen, including then in-charge of the Bandarbazar police outpost Akbar, were suspended on October 12. The three other policemen were also withdrawn from the outpost the same day.

Later, the case was transferred to the PBI.

On October 22, then SMP Commissioner Golam Kibria was transferred over widespread criticism for the role of police in Raihan’s death.

On November 29, Dr Shamsul Islam, the chief of the Forensic Department of Osmani Medical College Hospital, said Raihan died due to severe injuries “as per the viscera report”.

On November 18, 2020, a court sent Akbar to judicial custody in connection with Raihan’s death. Earlier, he was arrested from the Dona frontier area of Kanaighat on November 10.

Source: United News of Bangladesh