Police claim they are Islami Chhatra Shibir activists who spread rumours during the road safety movement, families deny
Twelve youths, who were allegedly picked up by police six days ago, were remanded after the law enforcement officials produced them before a Dhaka court on Monday afternoon.
Metropolitan Magistrate Nurunnahar Yasmin placed all of them on a two-day remand in a police assault case, while one of the 12 identified as Tarek Aziz was remanded for two more days in another case filed under the ICT Act, according to court police officials.
Earlier in the day, they were shown arrested in the cases, a day after their families alleged that members of the Detective Branch (DB) of police had picked the 12 youth up during raids in the capital’s Tejgaon and Mohakhali areas on September 5.
They had also urged the authorities concerned to release the youths if innocent or produce them before court if they are guilty of any wrongdoing.
At a press briefing on Monday, however, Dhaka Metropolitan Police’s Deputy Commissioner (DC) (media) Masudur Rahman said that DB arrested the 12 youth from Tejkunipara on Sunday night, and they were members and activists of Islami Chhatra Shibir - the student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami.
Apart from Dhaka Polytechnic student Aziz, he identified the 11 others as Md Tarek, Jahangir Alam, Md Mujahidul Islam, Md Al Amin, Johirul Islam Hasib, Gazi Md Borhan Uddin, Iftekhar Alam, Md Mehedi Hasan Rajib, Md Mahfuz, Md Saifullah Bin Monsur and Md Raihanul Abedin.
According to their families, Amin and Johirul are HSC graduates; Mujahidul is a second-year student at Bangladesh Textile University; Jahangir is fourth-year student at Government Titumir College; Saifullah has graduated from Government Sadat College; Borhan goes to SAIC Institute; Tarek, Mahfuz, Raihanul, Iftekhar and Mehedi are Dhaka Polytechnic students.
DC Masudur said: “The 12 youth were detained around 8:30pm Sunday. Several school uniforms, monograms and ID cards of different institutions were found on them. We also seized a hand microphone, hammer, screwdriver, three laptops and several forms detailing Chhatra Shibir’s work procedures from them at the time.”
Based on their findings from the preliminary interrogation, he said, the youths were involved in spreading rumours on social media during last month’s student movement demanding safe roads.
Families reject police claim
However, Saifullah’s father Monsur Rahman has claimed that his elder son was in DB’s custody for the past five days and was only shown arrested on Monday.
“Saifullah recently came to Dhaka from Tangail to attend the training of his new job in a pharmaceutical company. He was staying with his younger brother at the latter’s hostel when police picked up both of them on September 5,” he said.
“Although police released my younger son soon after, they kept him Saifullah in their custody till he was shown arrested,” the father said. Saifullah was accused in one of the cases police have filed.
Monsur stressed that Saifullah was not involved in the quota reform movement or road safety movement and he had no ties to Jamaat or Shibir.
Johirul’s father Enamul Haque also told the Dhaka Tribune that his son was at their village home when the quota reform and rode safety movements were on.
“I am a government employee. So there is no chance that my son is involved with Jamaat or Shibir. I sent Johirul to Dhaka for coaching classes for the university admission tests,” he said.
On Sunday, families of the 12 youths had held a press conference at the Crime Reporters Association of Bangladesh (CRAB) in the capital, seeking the whereabouts of their children who were missing for five days.
As per the existing law, anyone detained by the law enforcement agencies has to be produced before a court within 24 hours.
However, families of the 12 youths said they were not produced before a court even several days after their alleged detention.
Denying these claims, law enforcement said that the cases were filed at Tejgaon industrial zone police station against the 12 after their arrests on Sunday, and they were sent to court for a remand hearing on Monday following the law.
DC Masudur Rahman told reporters that 400 or 500 students had blockaded the road in front of Ahsanullah University of Science and Technology, chanting anti-government slogans. During the demonstration, the students also threw brickbats at the police members, some of whom were injured, he said.
Among the arrestees, he claimed, Tarek Aziz was a Shibir activist and one of the key players who had influenced the student movement demanding safer road by spreading rumours on social networking sites, including Facebook.
Responding to a question, the police official said that several of the 12 arrestees were students. “We have recovered 13 identity cards from them, but some of the cards did not match the personal information the arrestees gave us. So we will investigate this issue further.”
“We already know that some vested quarters had influenced the student movement. We also found that some youths had changed their dresses to school and college uniforms during the demonstrations to veer the movement off course.
“We are still investigating and combing through video footages to figure out who they were. These arrests were made after we identified them based on our findings,” said DC Masudur.
After the death of two college students under the wheels of a speeding bus on Dhaka’s Airport Road on July 29, students of numerous schools and colleges had taken to streets, demanding justice and punishment of the people responsible.
The students had blockaded the major roads of the capital and enforced traffic laws on their own for a week rather peacefully, while the movement spread across the country.
The situation, however, worsened on August 4 and 5 after ruling party supporters allegedly joined police in a bid to quell the demonstrations. As rumours of violence on social media fuelled anger, the demonstrators had clashed with police and reportedly ruling party men in Dhanmondi area.