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MP Liton knew his life was under threat

  • Published at 12:47 am January 6th, 2017
  • Last updated at 04:34 pm January 7th, 2017
MP Liton knew his life was under threat
Liton had licence to use pistol, but the gun was seized when he was arrested for shooting an eight-year-old boy in Gopalcharan village under Gaibandha's Sundarganj upazila on October 2, 2015. “Liton was fearing for his life and contacted the deputy commissioner of Gaibandha at the end of November to have his pistol back,” said Jahangir Alam Suja, former chairman of Dhopadanga Union Parishad under Sundarganj. “But the deputy commissioner denied his request,” added Suja, who was also a top official at Liton's office in Dhaka. When contacted, Gaibandha Deputy Commissioner Abdus Samad refuted Suja's claim saying he never received any request from Liton. “He applied for it at a local court but was rejected,” Samad told the Dhaka Tribune. Suja said Liton was preparing to file another appeal with the High Court through Advocate Nahid, assistant of Deputy Speaker at Parliament Md Fazle Rabbi Miah. He was going to file it in January, he added.
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However, Liton's wife Syeda Khurshid Jahan Smrity told reporters on Tuesday that Liton had not received any threats this year. She said he had received threats the year before. Suja said Liton never specified whom he was threatened by. “Judging by his recent behaviour and the threats he received previously, I think it could be Jamaat-Shibir who sent him threats.” Earlier, Smrity also claimed that Jamaat-e-Islami and its student wing Islami Chhatra Shibir were behind her husband's murder. She could not be reached when the Dhaka Tribune tried to contact her on Thursday. Liton was wounded in his chest and right arm when unidentified miscreants shot him in his village home at Shahbaj village in Sundarganj on December 31. He succumbed to his injuries at Rangpur Medical College Hospital a few hours later. He was elected as member of parliament from Gaibandha 1 constituency.

New evidence found

Local children found a black cap under a tree near Liton's village home, which police suspect might have been worn by one of the assailants. The cap was found on December 31 afternoon and was handed over to police, who sent it to Dhaka this week for DNA analysis. “The CID [Criminal Investigation Department] will run DNA test of the cap to find clues,” said Gaibandha Superintendent of Police Ashraful Islam. Meanwhile, law enforcement sources said investigators had also identified the owner of one of the two motorcycles which the assailants used to go to Liton's house. Police are now working to find said owner, they added. “Two motorcycles were used in the murder, so it is given that we would investigate their owners,” said Abdullah Al Faruk, assistant superintendent of police of Circle A in Gaibandha. Meanwhile, a Rapid Action Battalion official requesting anonymity said they were investigating all Bajaj Pulsar motorcycles in Sundarganj since the attackers came on those motorcycles. [caption id="attachment_42798" align="aligncenter" width="900"]Gaibandha--AP-Liton-01 Liton's house at Shahbaj village in Sundarganj upazila, Gaibandha, where he was shot Photo: Dhaka Tribune[/caption]

More names, information coming up

Names of three individuals who were close to Liton have come up in the murder investigation: Sagir Ali Bihari, ATM Maksudur Rahman alias Miskin Mukul and Jahangir. Local sources said the trio have not been seen in the area since Liton's attack. Police could not confirm whether they have gone into hiding. Local Awami League activists told the Dhaka Tribune that Sagir was a business associate of Liton's. The other two were close to him and acted as his advisers. All three were introduced to Liton by his wife Smriti and are on close terms with her as well, said Suja. However, local Jamaat sources said Miskin Mukul and Jahangir were also close to former Jamaat lawmaker Abu Saleh Md Abdul Aziz Mia. Commonly known as Ghoramara Aziz, the former Jamaat leader has been charged with crimes against humanity during Liberation War 1971.
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He is also an accused in the murder of four policemen in Bamandanga, Gaibandha following the death sentence of Jamaat leader Delawar Hossain Sayedee in 2014. Liton had filed the case on the killings with police. Aziz has been on the run since 2014. “Sagir always maintains good relationship with whoever gets elected to parliament in the area," said Abdul Mannan, mayor of Sundarganj municipality. "He was on good terms with Aziz, and he developed a good relationship with Liton too.” Police maintain that Jamaat-Shibir members were likely to be behind the attack as Liton had longstanding rivalry with the party. They are also considering internal dispute in local Awami League unit as a probable reason. At least 21 people have been arrested so far for their alleged involvement in the murder. Police sources said most of them are Jamaat men and belong to Allah-er Dan group, a suspected militant outfit.
Read More- MP Liton assassination: Probe focuses on motives, crime scene
However, a law enforcement member, seeking anonymity, said they were also looking into family members' involvement in the murder. “There are quite a few loose ends, which is why family involvement cannot be ignored,” he said. “Liton was supposed to return to Dhaka on December 31, but could not due to unavailability of plane tickets. He was scheduled to fly for Dhaka the next day,” said Ayub Ali, manager of Liton's cold storage in Shahbaj village. Few people besides his family and close leaders were aware of this matter, he said.

Local AL members feel unsafe

Awami League leaders and activists in Sundarganj are now fearing attacks on themselves. “Despite the heavy presence of law enforcers in the area, police found and arrested criminals carrying explosives,” said Golam Mostafa Ahmed, general secretary of the party's Sundarganj unit. “It is a matter of grave concern. Who knows when they [criminals] would attack again?” he said. Liton's close associate Suja said if attackers could kill someone like Liton, then the activists were not safe at all. “Police would not provide security to small leaders and activists like us,” he added. However, police officials said they would provide police protection to anyone who sought it with their available resources.