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Sagira Morsheda murder: PBI files charge sheet after 30 yrs seeking death penalty

  • Published at 04:48 pm January 16th, 2020
File photo of Sagira Morsheda Collected

Earlier, at a press briefing on Thursday at PBI headquarters in Dhaka, PBI Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Banaj Kumar Majumder said that 30 years of the incident, the PBI got the responsibility of investigating the case

Three decades after the murder of Sagira Morsheda at Siddheshwari in the capital, the Police Bureau of Investigation (PBI) has submitted charges against four people, including her brother-in-law and his wife.

The PBI filed the charge sheet with a Dhaka court on Thursday, recommending the death penalty for the four accused involved in the incident.

“30 years after the incident, the PBI got the responsibility of investigating the case. We have been able to prove it was a well-planned murder,” said Banaj Kumar Majumder, deputy inspector general of PBI, at a press conference held at PBI headquarters in Dhaka on Thursday.

“The murder took place due to a family feud. We filed a charge sheet with the court accusing the four after six months in three steps of the investigation. We sought the death sentence for each of the four involved in the murder,” he added.

The accused are – Sagira Morsheda husband’s brother Dr Hasan Ali Chowdhury, 70, his wife Sayedatul Mahmuda Shaheen, 64, his brother-in-law Anas Mahmood alias Rezwan, 59 and hired killer Maruf Reza, 49.

Banaj said that Sagira was killed over a family feud, mainly because her sister-in-law was jealous of her. The PBI investigated and found eight reasons for the murder.

Eight reasons behind the murder

-The accused Shaheen’s family had different kinds of  conflict with Sagira’s family

-Shaheen threw garbage from the third floor which fell in Sagira’s kitchen

-The mother-in-law liked Sagira more among the two daughters-in-law

-Shaheen had lower educational qualifications than Sagira

-Sagira’s apartment was more beautiful and well decorated than Shaheen’s

-Conflict over the use of the roof of the three-story building

-Sagira addressing Shaheen without deference as 'tumi'

-Conflicts over beating domestic help Jahanur, who worked for Sagira

Maruf Reza hired to kill Sagira with Tk25,000

Due the ongoing family quarrel and jealousy, Shahin planned to kill Morsheda and disclosed her decision to her husband Dr Hasan Ali, who agreed with her, said DIG Banaj Kumar Majumder.

He also said according to the plan, they hired Maruf Reza, a patient of Dr Hasan, for Tk25,000 and told Anas Mahmood Rezwan to complete the job together.

As per the plan, Maruf and Rezwan stopped Sagira’s rickshaw in Siddheswari area while she was on her way to Viqarunnisa Noon School to pick up her daughter Saharat on July 25, 1989.

Sagira identified Rezwan when the duo tried to snatch her bag and ornaments. Then Maruf shot her in the chest and hand and fled the scene, leaving her dead, he said.

Sagira’s husband Abdus Salam Chowdhury filed a case, accusing unnamed people, with Ramna police station the same day, he added.

The police viewed the murder as a mugging incident, Banaj said.

How the mystery of the case was uncovered

The PBI chief said that the PBI investigation on the case began on July 7 last year. The PBI first contacted Sagira’s husband Abdus Salam Chowdhury.

After much effort, PBI initially tracked down the rickshaw puller who had been hauling Sagira on the day, he said.

With the help of the rickshaw puller, the PBI identified one killer, Rezwan, and arrested him from Rampura area on November 10, 2019. Based on his confession, the remaining three were arrested from Dhaka’s Dhanmondi and Bailey Road area on November 12 and 13, Banaj added.

Why did it take 30 years?

Maruf Reza, now a housing businessman and resident of Bailey Road, was the nephew of the then home minister Maj Gen (retd) Mahmudul Hasan, said some officials seeking anonymity.

The PBI DIG said that the Detective Branch (DB) of police submitted a charge sheet accusing Mintu alias Montu in connection with the murder in September 1990.

“The court granted the prayer of the assistant public prosecutor (APP) for further investigation in the case when the name of Maruf Raza, a suspect in the case, surfaced,” said the DIG.

Maruf Reza filed a writ petition with the High Court challenging the court order. A total of 26 police officers investigated the case from 1990 to 2019, Banaj added.

On July 11, 2019 the High Court dismissed the writ and directed the PBI to submit a report after thorough investigation.

Banaj said that Dr Hasan gave Tk,15000 to Maruf after the murder and the rest of the money has not been paid yet.

Maruf has been trying to take advantage of the juvenile delinquency  factorin the case, citing his age on August 29, 1972 on his NID card. But the PBI found Maruf’s real age after investigation, his date of birth being March 10, 1971. When the killing happened, Maruf was 18 years 4 month 15 days old, he added.

There are some strong aspects of the case and some weak points have been found. A 1,309-page charge sheet was submitted to the court on Thursday, Banaj said.

Speaking of the weak links in the case, he said: "We cannot find the motorcycle, the revolver used by the contract killer, the rickshaw and Sagira’s jewellery and bag."

Sagira’s husband Abdus Salam Chowdhury and her younger brother Gawsul Nawaz Sabbir were present at the press conference.

Expressing satisfaction over the progress of the investigation, they said: "The PBI investigated those who have been identified as the accused; they were also on our list of suspects.”

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