As law enforcers continue efforts to verify missing person reports, the police in Bogra say they believe that at least six of the 17 missing young persons from the district are currently involved in militancy.
The others have reportedly gone into hiding as they were supporters of BNP-Jamaat's politics, police sources have said.
In the wake of the Dhaka terror attack, where all of the attackers were young men who had been missing for a long time, law enforcement agencies have been trying to compile a list of all missing persons who might have similarly run off from home to join militant outfits.
A source in the Bogra District Special Branch told the Dhaka Tribune that public representatives, community police, village police and local security guards have been tasked with reporting any suspicious militant activities or missing persons in their respective areas.
According to their reports, the whereabouts of at least 17 persons – four in Bogra Sadar, three in Gabtoli, four in Shibganj, three in Shajahanpur and three in Nandigram – cannot be accounted for.
Of these missing persons, six men from Gabtoli and Shajahanpur have been confirmed to have militant links, the source said on condition of anonymity.
However, he refused to disclose the identities of the suspected militants as investigation was ongoing.
On the other hand, Sub-Inspector Monnaf, who is in-charge of Bogra's Banani police outpost, said Jamilnagar resident Ragibul Hasan Regan – who has been missing for a year – is a suspected militant.
Masud, one of Regan's friend who also went missing with him, was recently arrested on terrorism charges from Dhaka's Kamrangirchar, the SI said, adding that it was suspected that Regan might have also become a militant with his friend.
Officer-in-charge of Dhunat police station, Mizanur Rahman, told the Dhaka Tribune that of the two men reported to be missing in his area, one Abdus Salam is rumoured to be currently fighting for militants in Afghanistan.
Nandigram OC Hasan Shamim Iqbal said two of the three people missing in his area were women who had eloped, while another man went missing while going to work. None of them were involved in militancy, he said.
Bogra's additional police superintendent of detective branch, Monira Sultana, told reporters that all union parishad members and chairmen have been instructed to notify about any missing persons. The information provided by those local sources were being lodged and verified, she said.
Meanwhile, Bogra's Senior Assistant Superintendent of Police Gaziur Rahman said they were looking into the Peace School of Jamilnagar – which according to locals was being run by Jamaat-Shibir men.
Five missing in Chittagong
At least five young persons, one of them as young as 12, have been reported as missing in Chittagong.
Three teenagers who are among those missing are madrasa students, according to the police, who also said they cannot confirm whether any of the missing persons were involved with militant outfits.
Of the five missing persons, two hailed from Raozan upazila, two from Chandanaish and one was from Patiya upazila.
A 14-year-old from Raozan, who is a student of Gahira FKM Jameyul Bohumukhi Kamil Madrasa, has been missing since October 25 last year.
Another 13-year-old student of Raozan's Abdul Quader Hefjkhana and Orphanage has also been missing since February 8 this year.
Kefayet Ullah, officer-in-charge of Raozan police, told the Dhaka Tribune: “Based on the general diary filed with Raozan police station, a total of three madrasa students went missing from Raozan upazila. Of the three missing students, Md Rubel, 19, who remained traceless for one and a half years, was found recently. However, two other madrasa students could not be found.”
In Patiya, an 18-year-old student of Shah Mirpur Madrasa, has been missing since August 9 last year.
In Chandanaish, a 20-year-old has been missing since March 11, while a 12-year-old has been traceless for the past two years.
Chandanaish police OC Md Neyamat Ullah told the Dhaka Tribune they were trying to locate the present whereabouts of these two.
Meanwhile, two special committees led by CMP Additional Deputy Commissioner (DB) Nazmul Hasan and Chittagong Additional Superintendent of Police (Special Branch) Rezaul Masud have been formed to investigate missing young persons' militancy links.
Rezaul Masud said they were gathering intelligence on the runaways in Chittagong based on the GDs lodged over the last two years.
“Many parents and guardians are not conscious enough to lodge a GD if anyone goes missing. We will also collect data on the missing persons for whom the guardians or parents did not file a GD. Later, we will prepare a list after scrutinising the collected information on the missing persons,” said the additional police super.
Bashir Ahmed, OC of CMP’s Double Mooring police station, said they had launched a special campaign to raise awareness among the people regarding the militant outfits.
“We are urging the locals to report us any case of missing young persons,” he said.
Debdas Bhattacharya, CMP additional commissioner (Crime and Operation), told the Dhaka Tribune: “We are now scrutinising the GDs filed in the 16 police stations under the CMP for runaway youths. We will then compile the data and prepare a list based on the GDs. After that we will investigate how many of the missing youths and students were involved with militant activities.”