The youth who was caught by locals while fleeing following the hacking of a Hindu college teacher in Madaripur town on Wednesday is a member of banned militant outfit Hizb ut-Tahrir, police say.
The arrestee, Ghulam Faizullah Fahim, 18, was an HSC examinee from Uttara High School and College, but did not complete the examinations. He remained missing since June 11, according to a GD filed by his parents with Dakkhinkhan police.
On that day, Faizullah sent an SMS to his father’s phone saying that he was going abroad. His family members came to know about him from newspapers on Wednesday.
Three attackers hacked Nazimuddin College mathematics teacher Ripon Chakrabarty, 45, with machetes at the gate of his house in College Road area around 4:30pm. They fled the scene quickly as locals gathered hearing Ripon’s screams.
Critically injured, Ripon was first taken to Madaripur Sadar Hospital and later to Barisal Sher-e-Bangla Medical College Hospital. Doctors said he is now out of danger.
He received six wounds – four on the head and two on an arm and an ear, Associate Professor of surgery unit Dr Nazmul Haque said.
Faizullah was caught while fleeing on an easy bike. The locals also caught another attacker but he escaped, after claiming that he had no involvement in the attack. He told the people that he was trying to escape a clash taking place at the college.
Police later recovered a machete from near the scene.
This is the first time the police have come to learn about the involvement of Hizb ut-Tahrir members in any of the targeted killings being carried out by militant organisations. The group was declared outlawed in 2009 for its anti-state activities.
Earlier, a leader of the group, Shafiur Rahman Farabi, was arrested for instigating the murder of secular writer Avijit Roy.
Police suspect outlawed groups Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) and Ansarullah Bangla Team for the recent attacks even though international groups Islamic State and al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) claimed responsibilities for the attacks.
However, two intelligence reports recently mentioned that the attacks were led by trained members of Hizb ut-Tahrir, which is at the helm of a platform of banned militant outfits eyeing to establish an Islamic state in the country.
On Sunday, Hizb ut-Tahrir distributed leaflets and pasted posters in Dhaka and elsewhere, saying that they would make an announcement on June 17.
Sarwar Hossain, superintendent of police in Madaripur, said: “Faizullah is a Hizb ut-Tahrir activist. He came to Madaripur along with his two other associates on the day of the incident.”
The killers might have visited Ripon’s house and followed his movement for some time, police said.
Sources said a special team of DB police conducted drives in Madaripur and Dhaka accompanying Faizullah to nab his associates and the mastermind, but to no avail.
Faizullah gave them information about at least 10 dens of the banned group. But the law enforcers found no one at those places.
DB sources said that during primary integration Faizullah said that he left Dhaka on June 12. He was recruited by his senior college-mate Jubair Ahmed and two staff at a book shop named Mishkat Library in front of his college.
The arrestee also admitted that he had attended a programme with some foreign members of the group recently.
Prof Nurul Huq Mia of Nazimuddin College told the Dhaka Tribune that when taken to the police station, Faizullah told the people that no one would be able to keep him inside jail.
‘I am not a blasphemer’
The injured college teacher spoke to the DB police officials at the hospital. “The attackers are not known to me. I think they were following me from my college. The swooped on me all of a sudden when I was entering my house.”
Ripon said he sometimes performed religious rituals in the area as a Brahmin. “But I do not write blogs [on religious issues] and have no activity on Facebook,” he told the police.
In the morning, teachers, students and general people of the district demonstrated in the town. They held a procession demanding punishment for the attackers.
On the other hand, members of the religious minority groups formed a human chain in front of the deputy commissioner’s office.