Allegations of extortion, bribery, close ties with drug peddlers, instigating violence in char areas and making money through false arrests, among others, are surfacing against the two policemen arrested in a robbery case in Narsingdi.
There are also reports of some other colleagues of the duo being linked to the criminal acts in Raipura upazila’s violence-prone union parishads and char areas.
Locals believe that the police members were also behind the enforced disappearances of several people in the char (a landmass that emerged from riverbed) area.
The complaints surfaced after the arrest of Raipura police station’s sub-inspectors-- Sakhawat Hossain and Azharul Islam, who allegedly committed robbery posing as the members of Detective Branch (DB) of police on January 26.
Some of the victims, preferring anonymity, said the two SIs continued “arrest trade” ever since they joined Raipura police. They used to detain people with no criminal records and demand a huge sum as ransom from their relatives.
If refused, the two would threaten the detainees of framing in cases filed for possessing or consuming yaba pills, and even of enforced disappearance.
They established a reign of terror in the char areas of Banshbari, Nilakshya, Mirza Char, Char Madhua, Pahartali, Chanpur and Sreenagar, locals said.
They basically took advantage of the longstanding violent atmosphere in the area, to boost their arrest trade.
Many of the victims were forced to flee their ancestral homes just because of the threats of being sued or any dire consequence.
In exchange of money, the two police officers also used to help miscreants and locals engage into clashes using Teta (a type of spear) and looting.
Prior to Eid-ul-Azha in September last year, SI Sakhawat looted Tk70 lakh and 25 cows by holding 30 traders hostage in Meghna River when the latter were returning from a cattle market, the victims said.
Raipura police station’s Officer-in-Charge Delwar Hossain then confessed to the media that they recovered around Tk9 lakh and 25 cows.
At that time, police claimed that the cattle traders were preparing for clashes using harpoons. Later on, one of the cattle traders was released from police custody in exchange of bribe, but the rest were sued in a case filed for Teta fight.
Though they were later freed on bail, the cattle traders could not recover the money looted. After several media outlets published reports on the incident, the high officials in police department launched an investigation, which is still underway.
A dispensary owner, preferring not to be named, said Sakhawat and his associates stormed into his house in the upazila’s Tulatoli area in the night of December 2.
The SI then demanded Tk10 lakh from him threatening him of a case by labelling the trader a spurious medicine producer and seller, he said.
In order to avert police harassment and protect his image, the dispensary gave them Tk4 lakh in two installments, he stated.
In another incident, Sakhawat detained a trader named Aminul Islam from Narsingdi town on December 14. He then demanded a hefty amount of money from Aminul, a resident of Nilakshya union parishad.
SI Sakhawat realised Tk3 lakh from Aminul’s relatives, by threatening that he would kill the trader in the name of crossfire if they had not paid him the money he demanded.
Despite receiving the money, he produced Aminul to a court in a murder case. The trader, however, was later granted bail in the case.
SI Azharul, too, does not lag behind in criminal acts, according to widespread allegations in the locality. He picked up a factory worker in Nilakshya union parishad while the latter was on his way to work a year ago. As the detainee failed to give him a certain amount of money, he was sent to jail in a case filed under the Explosives Act.
The allegations seem to be even graver when four persons from Banshgari union parishad and two from Nilakshya union parishad were picked by some people introducing themselves as policemen recently.
Ever since the incidents, police have been claiming not to be involved in the abductions. But locals are still skeptic that Sakhawat and Azharul were behind the people being missing.
Sohel Miah, a Bangladeshi expatriate in Malaysia, along with three others, was returning his village home in the upazila’s Hairmara area travelling on a rented car in the night of January 26.
When the car made a stopover at a refuelling station in Sahepratab area, the SIs — Sakhawat and Azharul — and another four policemen approached Sohel and his entourage, starting a search claiming that they were carrying something illegal.
On the pretext of a search, they robbed Sohel of two gold bars, gold ornaments and mobile phone sets worth Tk1,550,000 combined.
Afterwards, a written complained was filed with the district DB police, whose primary probe found evidence of the crime committed by the policemen.
Examining the CCTV footage of the refilling station, the DB police identified four members of Raipura police and three other suspects.
Four days later, Sakhawat, Azharul, constables -- Mainul Islam and Saidul Islam, driver Nuruzzman Mollah and their aides -- Nur Mohammad and Sadeq Miah were sued over the robbery.
Afterwards, the seven accused were arrested by the DB members, who also recovered gold bars weighing 100 grams, Tk29,255 cash, three rounds of bullets and a pistol from their possession.
The arrestees were finally remanded for different durations on Wednesday.