At least 13 people mysteriously disappeared from Dhaka in separate incidents over the last 10 months. Among them, five have returned while five others were shown as arrested. Families of the remaining three are still anxiously awaiting news of their missing loved ones.
Former Bangladesh ambassador to Qatar and Vietnam M Maroof Zaman, McGill University student Ishrak Ahmed, and former Lakehead Grammar School owner Rizwan Haroon are the three yet to be traced. Police have identified Rizwan as a suspected militant recruiter.
Maroof Zaman, 61, left his home in Dhanmondi to pick up his daughter Samiha Zaman from Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport on December 4, 2017. He never arrived at the airport and has not been seen since.
“When I returned from Belgium, my father was supposed to pick me up at the airport but I never found him there. I waited for about three or four hours, and then when I called home my family said that my father had left the house a long time ago,” Samiha told the Dhaka Tribune.
She added that she informed police and searched the airport several times before contacting her uncle to pick her up.
“On December 3, 2012, I lost my mother. Five years and one day later, I lost my father. I am overcome with guilt every time I remember that if my father had not gone to the airport for me, he may never have gone missing,” Samiha said, growing visibly emotional.
Meanwhile, Ishrak Ahmed, a computer science student of McGill University in Canada, was last seen near Star Kabab at Dhanmondi Road no 15 on August 26, 2017. His family members said he was visiting Bangladesh after having completed his second semester at McGill when he disappeared.
Ishrak’s father Jamal Uddin told the Dhaka Tribune that he constantly awaits news that his son had been found, having seen so many of the other missing persons return.
Both Samiha and Jamal said they had contacted various departments of law enforcement agencies, but no one was able to provide any information on their missing family members.
They further urged Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to intervene in the matter, stressing that they only wanted their family members to return healthy.
The third person still missing, Rizwan Haroon, was picked up by a group of people posing as members law enforcement from in front of his Banani office in May last year. Formerly an owner of the Lakehead Grammar School which was suspended temporarily over allegations that it was spreading religious extremism, Rizwan is suspected to be a militant recruiter.
When contacted, officials at Haroon Engineering in Banani said there had been no news of Rizwan, and his father had long been unable to come to the office due to ill health.
Dhanmondi police station OC Abdul Latif and Banani police station SI Nurul Haque told the Dhaka Tribune that they were yet to find any information on any of the three missing persons, and that there was no information to suggest they had been picked up by law enforcement.
According to various media reports and human rights organizations, over five hundred people have gone missing or disappeared in Bangladesh over the last 10 years. Many were later shown as arrested in cases filed with police, while others resurfaced.
In its annual report, human rights organization Amnesty International said the trend of enforced disappearances in Bangladesh persisted through 2017, with the targets primarily being the political opposition and their supporters.