Search for ‘Hercules’ leads to govt vehicle
DOT Desk: A Prothom Alo investigation has indentified that the vehicle used to pick up a rape case suspect, Sajal, was registered with the headquarters of a law enforcement agency.
Police found the bullet-ridden dead bodies of Sajal and another accused in the same case, Kabit Islam, with confession notes hanging around their necks. The notes ended with the signature ‘Hercules’, an unknown vigilante using the pseudonym of the Greek god, taking responsibility as a vigilante.
The medical test report of the reportedly raped madrasa student revealed no evidence of ‘forced sexual intercourse’, though.
Kabit Islam aka Rakib Molla, 20, and Ishtiaq Ahmed aka Sajal, 28 were the prime accused in the rape case of a madrasa student in Pirojpur.
The rape case was filed with Bhandaria police station on 17 January. The father of the student alleged that the two suspects raped his daughter at around 11:00am on 12 January.
Later, Kabit Islam was picked up from Savar and Sajal from Sitakundu of Chattogram by persons who claimed themselves to be the members of the law enforcement, according to witnesses.
The white SUV used to seize Sajal has been identified in a Prothom Alo investigation to be a government vehicle, registered in the name of the headquarters of a law enforcement agency.
Also, it was found that the locations of the accused were tracked down through latest technology. The law enforcement did not admit to picking up any of them though.
Police found their bullet-hit bodies in different places in Jhalakathi with the notes around their necks confessing the crime even before they were proven to be guilty in police investigation.
The emergence of the vigilante who went on rampage against alleged rapists caught media attention after the general election.
Police found three such bullet-ridden dead bodies so far in different areas of the country, with the culpatory notes hanging around their necks confessing to be the rapists.
The law enforcement is yet to identify the ‘vigilante’ Hercules who has received mixed response from the public.
Many suspect these murders to be a new form of extrajudicial killing. Several human rights organisations raised their concern over such unlawful killings.
The chairman of the national human rights commission, Kazi Reazul Hoque, said in a meeting on 6 February that it is the responsibility of the state to identify this ‘Hercules’.
Also, the home minister Asaduzzaman Khan on 8 February said, “No one is above the law. We will find the person responsible for this.”
Asked about the progress in the investigations, Asaduzzaman Khan told the Prothom Alo correspondent yesterday that the concerned authorities were working on it and would shortly reveal the details.
No evidence of rape found
The medical report was submitted on 18 January. It said, there was no evidence of rape found.
However, the father of the student told Prothom Alo that it would be hard to find any evidence as the test was carried out some days after the incident.
One of the two physicians, Jannatul Mawa, told Prothom Alo, “Marks or injuries are generally found on rape victims. We submitted what we found to the court.”
Ishtiaq aka Sajal and Kabit were friends. Sajal worked for a telecommunication company and Kabit was a law student in a private university in Dhaka.
The father of the student mentioned in the case that Kabit and his daughter were in touch over mobile phone.
Kabit’s father told the Prothom Alo correspondent that he went to Pirojpur on vacation after his semester final exams on 28 December.
On the other hand, Sajal’s father said, he went to Barishal for a recruiting test of the tax commission. He went to Pirojpur after the exam.
Kabit’s father also said that he was not sure about the rape but there was a property dispute between Kabit’s uncle and the father of the student.
Ishtiaq was picked up from a bus
Sajal returned to Dhaka the day after the case was filed on 18 January and went to his in-laws’ house on 20 January.
His wife Shamsunnahar told Prothom Alo that Sajal started out for Chattogram on 22 January. She talked to him several times over phone. But Sajal was not reachable after 7:00pm.
The rickshaw-van puller who dropped him at the bus stop told Prothom Alo that Ishtiaq aka Sajal took an Ena Paribahan bus from Nadda of Dhaka.
The main bus counter of Ena Paribahan gave the names of the driver and supervisor of the particular Chattogram bound bus.
The supervisor told Prothom Alo that three persons stopped the bus at Boro Darogahat area of Sitakundu and searched the vehicle. They let the bus go after a few minutes.
The white SUV chased the bus again as it arrived in Barabkundu Bazar and stopped it.
The three men introduced themselves to be the members of law enforcement. They boarded the bus and started checking the passengers, matching their faces with a photo on their mobile phones.
The supervisor identified Sajal’s photo showed by the Prothom Alo correspondent and confirmed that he was picked by the persons on the day.
The bus driver told Prothom Alo that he took a picture of the SUV after picking up Sajal.
The correspondent found the registration number from the picture and went to Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) to find out the owner.
The BRTA records show, the vehicle is registered with the address of the headquarters of a law enforcement agency. The owner is mentioned as ‘government department’.
A passenger of the bus also confirmed that a passenger was picked up and taken away in a white SUV.
Kabit was abducted by two vehicles
Kabit after returning to Dhaka on 18 January went to a friend’s place in Nabinagar of Savar next day. His father said that he talked to his son everyday till 24 January.
Kabit’s friend called his father on 25 January and told him that he was picked up by some people in two Hiace vehicles.
The friend did not talk to the Prothom Alo correspondent. Later, Kabit’s father talked to him in front of the correspondent with the phone speaker on.
The friend said, two microbuses stopped in front of the tea stall where Kabit and his friend were sitting on 25 February in Nabinagar Niribili area. Four persons came out of the vehicle and grabbed them. Another person inside the car and pointed to Kabit. So only Kabit was taken after that.
Location tracked via mobile phone
Kabit’s father collected his call records that showed four text messages from three different numbers were received on his phone 27 minutes from 10:14pm. The three numbers were found switched off later. These records reveal that one SMS after the other were sent to Ishtiaq on his way from Dhaka to Chattogram at Cumilla’s Biswa Road area. These messages continued till he was picked up.
Several officers involved with the investigation told Prothom Alo that such messages are sent to track the location of a person. The SMS cannot be seen by the user but remains in the call records.
Deputy inspector general of police headquarters, Ruhul Amin, told Prothom Alo, “A particular government agency carries out such actions. Other law enforcement agencies use the service through them. Only government forces are entitled to avail this service.”
Human rights activist and former caretaker government advisor Sultana Kamal told Prothom Alo, “If these two young men were actually picked up by a law enforcement vehicle before they were killed, this is certainly a matter of alarm. If the matter isn’t investigated, then questions will arise as to whether these were planned killings. If those in charge of law and order commit extrajudicial acts, where will we go?”