Investigations into the string of kidnappings and disappearances across the country in recent times have mostly remained unsolved as the victims of the ordeal refuse to discuss what happened, if and when they return.
Rakibul Hasan Rocky used to work in Lakshmipur. On December 6 of last year, he was abducted by 7-8 men in a white microbus from Lakshmipur's Puraton Adalot road. Rocky's father Tofael Ahmed filed a GD with Lakshmipur police station after his kidnapping. After six months of fruitless searching by the police, he was found tied and blindfolded beside the Dhaka-Raipur Highway in Baghbari by a rickshaw-puller who took him home.
Tofael Ahmed told the Dhaka Tribune: “We are poor, hardworking people. My son never got into trouble with anyone. Why was he still kidnapped? Many people have told us that they saw Rocky being carried away in a law enforcement vehicle. But the police deny this. My son still lives in fear.”
“After he returned, the police have only taken him to court to get his testimony. They have not contacted us since,” he added.
Rocky has refused to talk about his kidnapping since his return. The GD filed about his abduction remains to be closed with no foreseeable progress in the investigation.
Lakshmipur police station Officer-in-Charge Lokman Hossain told the Bangla Tribune: “The victim of the kidnapping has refused to tell us anything after his rescue. If he had only spoken to us, we might have been able to make some progress. We have kept up our efforts to find out more about the circumstances behind his kidnapping.”
Muhammad Iqbal Mahmud is a doctor from Lakshmipur who started a two month training course at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University on October 10 last year. When he returned to Dhaka after a short stay at home on October 15, he was kidnapped from the Science Laboratory intersection. He too was found tied and blindfolded in Lakshmipur, seven months after his kidnapping.
After his return, Mahmud told reporters and his family that he was given three meals a day, and was even allowed to offer his prayers. He was not tortured at all during the entire time. The police have yet to uncover the mystery behind his kidnapping as well.
Nurul Alam, Mahmud's father, told the Bangla Tribune: “My son has no information about his kidnapping. We were frantically running about after his kidnapping. I am grateful that he came back safe and sound. He is doing quite well now.”
Mahmud's case was handed over to the Detective Branch from Dhanmondi police. The case was finally transferred to the CID and investigated by Assistant Superintendent of Police Ratan Krishna Nath. He took Mahmud to court for his testimony, and since then has made no contact with Mahmud or his family. There has been no progress on his case either.
Jewel, a local of Barisal's Syed Hatem Ali College bazaar, disappeared on June 30. Jewel's older brother HM Abdullah Himel filed a GD with Kotoali Model Police Station on July 1. Jewel had only been married for two months before his disappearance. He returned by himself on July 6.
Although Jewel was interrogated by the police, he has refused to speak to journalists. When Himel was contacted for comment, he refused to speak to the press as well.
On December 1 last year, four friends – Safayet, Pavel, Sujon and Mehedi – went missing from Banani's Northern Cafe. Safayet and Pavel were students at North South University. All four returned by themselves, although no one can confirm where they were taken. Law enforcement agencies have also failed to provide any information about their case.
Abu Bakar Siddique, executive director of Bangladesh Environmental Lawyer’s Association was kidnapped in April 2014, and technology specialist Tanvir Zoha was kidnapped in March 2016. When they both returned, they refused to talk about their kidnappings.
Ward Councillor Chowdhury Alam, kidnapped in June 2010, and BNP leader Ilias Ali, kidnapped in April 2012, still remain missing.
In March 2014, BNP Joint Secretary Salah Uddin was kidnapped from Uttara. On May 11, 2014, he was found wandering aimlessly in Shillong in Assam, India. He was detained by the local police, but has not been repatriated yet.
Human rights organisation Ain o Shalish Kendra (ASK) estimates that between 2014 and June 2017, 284 people have gone missing or have been victims of kidnappings. The bodies of 44 victims have been recovered. 36 people have been arrested after being found, and 27 have returned to their families through various means. The whereabouts of 177 people still remain unknown.
Brigadier General (retd) M Sakhawat Hossain, a security analyst, told the Bangla Tribune: “These kidnappings need to be investigated properly. If the truth behind these kidnappings is not revealed, people will continue to live in fear.”
This article was first published in the Bangla Tribune.