While police suggest that he may have died in a train accident, Shumon Zahid's family believe he was murdered
The body of Shumon Zahid, a witness in a 1971 war crimes case, has been recovered from near a railway track in Dhaka’s Khilgaon.
The 55-year-old was the only son of martyred journalist Selina Parvin.
Locals found Shumon's body with his throat slit near Bagicha Mosque level crossing around 8am on Thursday.
On receiving the information, police recovered the body from the spot about two hours later, which was first taken to the Government Railway Police (GRP) Station at Kamalapur, and then sent to Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) for an autopsy.
After an inquest, Kamalapur GRP OC Yasin Faruk said: “Shumon may have been run over by the Rangpur Express as he was crossing the railway lines.”
Sub-Inspector Anwar Hossain also said that the victim’s throat might have been slit as he was run over. There were signs of injury on his right ear and forehead as well.
His family, however, said they believe Shumon, who worked at Farmers Bank Limited's Shantinagar branch up until four months ago, was murdered.
His brother-in-law Kazi Md Bakhtiar told reporters that Shumon might have been murdered by those who had threatened to kill him earlier to stop him from testifying in the war crimes case against Al-Badr leaders Chowdhury Mueen Uddin and Ashrafuzzaman Khan.
Mueen and Ashraf were tried in absentia and sentenced to death in November 2013 by the International Crimes Tribunal-2, for killing 18 intellectuals during the 1971 Liberation War.
Bakhtiar also said Shumon’s house at Shahjahanpur was about a 10-minute walk from the spot where his body was found. He lived there with his wife and two sons.
He said that police were aware of the death threats Shumon had received and maintained contact with him.
Shumon had also become careful about his day-to-day movements after testifying against the war criminals and receiving the threats. He generally rode a motorcycle, but he did not take it out on Thursday.
Meanwhile, DMCH Forensic Medicine Department Associate Professor Dr Sohel Mahmud said they have completed the autopsy.
“There are wounds on the back, head, face and nose. Perhaps the head was severed under the wheels of the train, but we are not sure yet,” he told reporters.
Asked whether it was possible that Shumon was drugged and left on the railway tracks premeditatedly, Sohel said: “That is possible. It could also have been that he was run over by the train. We have done viscera tests and will be able to confirm the cause of death once the test reports are ready.”
Police said they had started investigating if Shumon’s death was an accident or murder.
Shumon was an eight-year-old when members of Al-Badr, a militia which collaborated with the Pakistan Army against Bangladesh’s independence, had picked up his journalist mother Selina Parvin from their home at New Circular road in Dhaka on December 13, 1971, similar to other intellectual martyrs, just three days before Bangladesh won the war.
Selina was murdered along with other intellectuals on December 14. Her body was found at the Rayerbazar killing fields four days later.
Towhid Reza Noor, son of another martyred journalist Siraj Uddin Hossain and one more witness against Al-Badr leaders Mueen and Ashraf, suspected that Shumon’s body was planted on the railway tracks after he was murdered by the anti-liberation forces.
Towhid’s father Siraj was also killed by Al-Badr members, just before independence in 1971.
Family members said Shumon Zahid had worked as a journalist before he went to work at the Farmers Bank.
Later in the day, Ekattorer Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee in a statement demanded a prompt investigation to ascertain whether his death was a planned killing or an accident.