Dhaka police on Friday morning claimed two suspected contract killers were killed in a 'gunfight' with detectives in Dhaka during an operation to arrest the duo.
While briefing reporters, Dhaka Metropolitan Police’s Deputy Commissioner (Media) Masudur Rahman said ‘Pichchi’ Al Amin, 32, and Saddam Hossain, 25, both were accused in the murder of Banani businessman Siddique Hossain Munshi, the so-called ‘gunfight’ took place during a raid in Aftabnagar.
“The men opened fire on the DB team, leading to a skirmish that left them seriously wounded,” he said.
Both injured men died after they had been whisked off to Dhaka Medical College Hospital.
Families of Al Amin and Saddam, however, claimed that both Al Amin and Saddam had been picked up by detectives long before.
Police’s Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) chief Monirul Islam at another press briefing on Wednesday revealed that ‘Picchi’ Al Amin and Saddam were identified by the team leader of a six-member hitman group, Md Helaluddin, 38, who admitted to have carried out the murder with help of five others after being contracted by a Europe-based Bangladeshi expatriate.
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Helal was reportedly arrested from Gulshan’s Kalachandpur area with five firearms – one 9mm pistol, four 7.65mm pistols and nine bullets.
According to the Saddam Hossain’s family, some men carrying Detective Branch’s identification picked up the 25-year-old from the place of his aunt by marriage in Comilla’s Soagazi on November 25.
Saddam’s maternal aunt Putul, who came with the family at Dhaka Medical College Hospital mortuary to identify her nephew’s body, told the Dhaka Tribune on Friday afternoon that the family has received negative responses from the Detective Branch headquarters in Dhaka’s Mintoo Road multiple times regarding Saddam’s whereabouts since the day of his arrest.
Arif, Saddam’s maternal cousin, said Saddam, father of a four-year-old daughter, produces candle at his small factory in Gazipur.
Saddam’s father Hasmat Ali claimed his son, a resident of East Ulon in Rampura, had never been indicted in any case.
“Law enforcement agencies killed my son [Saddam] in the name of ‘gunfight’. I want justice,” the bereaved father said, standing in front of the DMCH morgue, where his son’s body was kept.
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Al Amin’s wife Khadiza came to identify his body.
Her assertion regarding Al Amin’s detention is quite similar to Saddam’s family.
Khadiza said her husband, a trader by profession, was picked up by some men in plainclothes with DB identification from a restaurant in Gazipur on December 2 noon.
“Since then, I have been looking for him,” Khadiza said.
When contacted, Abdul Baten, Joint Commissioner of DB said: “Whatever the families of those ‘criminals’ are claiming are blatant lies. We conducted the operation based on information we extracted from Helal Uddin [arrested team leader of the hitman group], and by the book. We did not have any other option but to open fire on them.”
According to multiple human rights watchdogs, extra judicial killing is a common phenomenon in Bangladesh.
Ain o Salish Kendra estimated at least 51 people were killed in gunfights or crossfire in between January 1 to March 14 alone.
Of them, 38 people were killed by police, six by rapid Action Battalion (RAB), five by DB police, one by joint forces and one by the army.
In 2016, the watchdog reported that at least 195 people were killed by law enforcement and security agencies: 119 were killed by police, 55 by RAB, 1 by RAB and Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB) together, 1 by Ansar and Rail police, 2 by BGB and police, 1 by army and 16 by DB Police.