A departmental probe body has been formed to investigate allegations that policemen from Khulna's Khalishpur police station have damaged the eyes of a man while torturing him in their custody.
The victim, Shahjalal, is now undergoing treatment at Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH).
Doctors have told the man's family members that both of his eyes have to be enucleated.
Shahjalal was shown arrested in a case filed by one Suma Akhter over the attempted snatching of her vanity bag near Khalishpur’s Golakhali rail line on July 18.
The man was caught by some bystanders while snatching the bag.
He underwent a mob lynching there before being handed over to police, and those who were involved in the beating are responsible for damaging his eyes, claimed police.
Shahjalal, on the contrary, alleged that he was tortured by the policemen inside and outside of the police station on the night of his arrest after he refused to pay them a bribe.
Talking to reporters at Khalishpur Clinic – the policemen admitted Shahjalal in that clinic in Khulna on the same night – Shahjalal said: “They beat me up mercilessly at the police station and demanded Tk1 lakh for my release.”
“When I said that I did not have the money, they took me out of the station, saying that I would be admitted to the hospital. Then they took me to Bishwa Road area and gouged out my eyes after tying up my hands, feet and mouth,” he added.
Shahjalal’s wife Rahela Begum said: “Hearing the news that my husband was picked up by Inspector Rasel and Mamun, I rushed to the station. I was allowed to see my husband for Tk100. His eyes were fine at the time. A police officer then said they would release my husband if we give them Tk1 lakh. Then they asked me to leave.”
“I stayed in front of the police station that night and saw the policemen take Shahjalal out of the station around 11:30pm. I kept waiting but my husband was not brought back to the station that night. Police later asked me to go to the hospital. I rushed there and found him lying on the floor.”
Khaliashpur police station Officer-in-Charge Nasir Khan claimed that the culprits who damaged Shahjalal’s eyes were those who had caught him snatching the bag from Suma.
According to the First Information Report (FIR) of the case, the incident took place around 11:30pm.
However, some witnesses, as well as family members of the arrested, have claimed that the incident actually took place a couple of hours earlier.
A local businessman, preferring not to be named, told the Dhaka Tribune: “It might have taken place some time between 8:30 and 8:45 at night. We heard that a hijacker was caught. We heard the screams of some people for a while. Police arrived later on and took someone with them.”
Khulna Metropolitan Police (KMP) Additional Deputy Commissioner Monira Khatun said senior police authorities are taking the allegations seriously.
A departmental probe body was formed to investigate the matter on July 27, she added.