Court orders the handover of the investigation of two cases filed against Sifat to the Rapid Action Battalion
Shahedul Islam Sifat, a member of slain retired army officer Sinha Mohammad Rashed Khan's film crew, has been released from jail on bail in two cases of murder and narcotics filed at Teknaf police station in Cox's Bazar.
He was released around 2:15pm on Monday from Cox's Bazar Central Jail, said Jail Superintendent Moqammel Hossain.
Sifat met members of his family soon after he walked out of prison and is now with them. They are expected to leave Cox’s Bazar for Dhaka later tonight.
Speaking to Dhaka Tribune, Masum Billa, Sifat’s uncle, said: “Sifat was released from jail around 2pm and he is with us now. We just had lunch and are now resting. We will leave for Dhaka tonight.”
Enayet Kabir Hawladar, Sifat’s grandfather who lives in Barisal’s Bamna upazila, said: “We are very happy for his release. We are thankful to the government.
“I would also like to thank the media for their role in this matter.”
Friends of Sifat have also expressed their satisfaction and relief about his release.
Shafiqul Islam Sifat, one of Sifat’s close friends in Bamna, said: “We are very happy that our friend got bail. We are grateful to the concerned authorities for this.”
Earlier on the day, Cox's Bazar Chief Judicial Magistrate Court Judge Tamanna Farah granted him bail on a bond of Tk5,000 in the cases.
The court also ordered the handover of the investigation of the cases to the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB).
Sifat's lawyers Mohammad Mostofa and Mahbubul Alam Tipu told this to reporters after the hearing.
Sifat, also a student of Stamford University's Department of Film and Media Studies, has been named in the cases following the killing of Sinha in a reported police firing.
On Sunday, Sifat's lawyers moved a bail plea and a petition seeking the court's order to hand over the investigation to RAB while the court fixed Monday for passing an order.
On the same day, Shipra Rani Debnath, another member of the slain retired Army major's film crew, was released on bail after she was arrested on July 31 in a narcotics case filed at Ramu police station.
"Shipra was handed over to her lawyer and family members after the bail documents were sorted out," Jail Superintendent Moqammel Hossain told Dhaka Tribune.
Her lawyer Arup Barua said: "She will be out on bail until the investigation report is submitted."
Sifat, with his classmates Shipra and Tahsin Rifat Noor, were in Cox's Bazar to shoot a travel documentary for Sinha's YouTube channel.
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On the night of July 31, retired army officer Sinha was killed at the Shamlapur police check post on Marine Drive in Teknaf's Baharchhara.
Sifat, who was with Sinha, was arrested right after the killing and sent to jail the next day after police pressed charges against him.
Shipra and Rifat were picked up by police the same night from the Himchhari's Nilima Resort where they were staying, on charges of possessing liquor and marijuana.
Rifat was handed over to his family the next day but police pressed narcotics charges against Shipra.
On August 2, the Home Ministry formed a four-member committee, headed by Mohammad Mizanur Rahman, additional divisional commissioner (development), to investigate the incident.
On August 5, Sinha's sister Sharmin Shahriar Ferdous filed a case with the Cox's Bazar Chief Judicial Magistrate Court against nine people, including Teknaf police station Officer-in-Charge (OC) Pradeep Kumar Das, and Baharchhara police outpost in-charge, Inspector Liakat Ali.
The next day, seven of the accused in the case, surrendered to the court and sought bail. The court sent them to prison.
Soon after the court order, the RAB moved a petition to take the suspects into custody for interrogation, when the court remanded Pradeep, Liakat, and Sub-Inspector Nanda Dulal Rakkhit, for seven days.
It also allowed the investigators to question the four other suspects at the jail gate and issued warrants for two other fugitive suspects -- Assistant Sub-Inspector Tutul and Constable Mostofa.
The district police, however, claimed that none of the fugitives were working at Baharchhara Investigation Centre and Teknaf police station.
Following the case, Bangladesh Police has suspended the seven law enforcers who are in custody now.
Our correspondent Anisur Rahman Swapan from Barisal also contributed to this report