'MPs are making fun of our tears’

Police refuse to cooperate over the filing of cases over enforced disappearances, victims’ families claim

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MPs and ministers have been making fun of the tears of family members of those who went missing after being abducted by the law enforcing agencies, claimed the wife of a timber trader who reportedly went missing in 2019.

Nasima Akter Smriti said MPs and ministers on different occasions claimed missing husbands had married again and moved away, as there were no enforced disappearances in the country.

She made the remarks during a protest program arranged by Mayer Dak in Dhaka on Saturday, with the families of the alleged victims of enforced disappearances present.

Nasima, wife of timber trader Ismail Hossain Baten, said Ismail had not returned home since members of Rapid Action Battalion (RAB)-4 members took him away nearly three years ago. She has spent many days going from door to door looking for her husband.

She said she had gone to the police, but they were not cooperative. A deputy commissioner of police reportedly did not even read her letter, instead suggesting that she go to RAB as her complaint was against them.

Three years later, the police came to her house and asked her if her husband was really missing, or if he had gone somewhere.

When asked about her husband's whereabouts, Nasima told the police: "Where did you keep him? Give us the body.”

Mayer Dak coordinator Afroza Islam said family members of enforced disappearance victims would welcome investigations, but they were being discouraged as police often asked them to come to the police station and kept them there for hours.

She alleged that police were now saying that when these people went missing, family members concealed information about them in the general diaries (GDs) filed with police stations.

“But when the victims went missing, police did not want to take a case or a general diary,” she claimed.

After the disappearance of her brother Sajedul Islam, her family went to Bhatara police station. The police told them to go to Tejgaon, and when they went to Tejgaon they were told to go to Uttara police station, she said. 

“The GD, mentioning that RAB had taken him from in front of six or seven people, could not be lodged. They were forced to write that the victims had not returned home, could not be found,” Afroza Islam added.

She further said that the families of the victims of enforced disappearance wanted an independent and impartial judicial inquiry. They also demanded that a UN inquiry committee be allowed to come to Bangladesh and launch a probe.

Shahjahan Mollah, the father of missing BNP member from Laxmipur Alamgir Mollah, said he had to go to the police station several times since January 10. Police recorded the details of what happened to his son, but they did not give him a copy of the paper he signed.

Police visited the house of Abdul Quader Masum, who went missing from Dhaka, three times. They asked the same thing every time, he said.

Those who have recently been visited by the police or who have had to go to the police station or have been pressured to sign a statement written by the police are the ones who took part in the program on Saturday, according to the program organizers.

Convenor of Nagorik Oikyo Mahmudur Rahman Manna, Dhaka University Professor Asif Nazrul, Human Rights Organizer Nur Khan Liton and General Secretary of National Press Club Elias Khan also spoke at the program, among others. 

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