'We will need it for further investigation and also, to prove the case against the suspected drug dealers'
Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) has confirmed that they seized CCTV footage of Malibagh "gunfight" incident as "evidence." However, allegations have been raised against the law enforcing agency suggesting that the footage was erased once they extracted the evidence.
The footage was collected from nearby shops and businesses as sources, seeking anonymity, alleged that the main files were erased from source devices following the "gunfight" that took place on Sunday morning where a suspected drug trader, Syed Iqbal Ahmed, 42, was shot dead.
“We took those (CCTV footage) in our custody. We will need it for further investigation and also, to prove the case against the suspected drug dealers,” said Rab-2 Company Commander Mohammad Mohiuddin Faruqui.
When asked about the erasing of CCTV footage, RAB officials failed to clarify their reasons while claiming that they did so "to secure the footage from falling into the hands of miscreants."
The suspected drug dealer, Iqbal, died on the spot while two others, including a woman, were shot in their legs during the "gunfight" near the Shohag Paribahan bus shed in the capital's Malibagh Railgate area.
Injured Rafika Jasmin, 29, wife of the deceased, and her brother Mashnur Hasan, 22, are currently receiving treatment at Dhaka Medical College Hospital under RAB’s custody. Journalists were not allowed to talk to them.
Moreover, RAB confirmed that the trio used to smuggle yaba pills into the city from Cox’s Bazar.
While talking to several people near the ticket counter, nearby showrooms and hotels, they confirmed that members of RAB cordoned the area early on Sunday morning. When the gunfight took place, they heard eight to 10 shots going off even though they did not witness it firsthand.
RAB officials said that they have been tracking Iqbal for a long time. According to intelligence information received, the law enforcing agency learned that Iqbal was returning from Cox's Bazar. Members of the battalion then took their positions, waiting for Iqbal's bus to arrive.
After the bus arrived at the bus counter, all the passengers left except Iqbal, who had at least 10 to 12 items of luggage. After about 20 minutes, two private cars approached the spot to pick him up. A man and a woman got out of the cars and started to pick up Iqbal’s luggage. By then, RAB had already cordoned off the area to conduct a search.
Sensing trouble, Iqbal fired shots at members of RAB, initiating a gunfight in which he sustained bullet injuries.
RAB recovered one lakh yaba pills, Tk1.80 lakh in cash and a pistol from the scene.
There are six cases recorded against Iqbal under The Narcotics Control Act. Among them, four are filed with Jatrabari Police station, one with Tejgaon and another with Badda police station. He used to bring TK2 to 2.5 cr worth of yaba shipment to Dhaka.
Furthermore, RAB informed that Rafika is Iqbal’s second wife and her brother, Mashnur was a private university student. They are also suspected drug traffickers.
On Sunday afternoon, Shamim Ara Sharmin, who claimed herself as the wife of Iqbal, said that she lives with her three children in Uttarkhan’s Masterbari area and that she did not communicate with her husband frequently.
Media reports suggested that Iqbal's flat in Adabar was raided by RAB officials who recovered 10,000 yaba pills and Tk4 lakh in cash.