Accounts from their confidants, and acquaintances indicate a series of factors contributed to the murder
Investigation has revealed that extensive patronage by fractured political factions has been a key factor in shaping the crime scene in Barguna. The deeper we delve, it seems like having opened the pandora’s box with new information emerging almost daily.
The sensational murder of Rifat Sharif by Sabbir Hossain Nayan, and his accomplices Rifat Farazi and Rishan Farazi, with several others on June 26 initially appeared to have been fuelled by Nayan’s infatuation with Rifat Sharif’s wife Ayesha Siddiqa Minni. But accounts from their confidants, and acquaintances indicate a series of factors contributed to the murder.
Nayan and Rifat Sharif were childhood friends, who went to school together, and received similar political patronage from Monjurul Alam John, an influential member of local Jubo League, according to Jubayer Adnan Anik, president of the Barguna unit of Bangladesh Chhatra League. John himself is patronized by Sunam Debnath, the science and technology secretary of the district unit of Awami League, and a son of the local lawmaker, Dhirendra Nath Shambhu.
The political scenario in Barguna is by and large pro-Awami League. However, there are two intra party factions – one supports the MP, the other opposes him. A local Awami League leader reluctant to be identified admitted that the opposing faction itself is cleaved in two. Barguna district Awami League General Secretary Jahangir Kabir, father of Jubayer, leads one, and the other is led by Zila Parishad Chairman Delwar Hossain who is the uncle of the Farazi brothers.
The incumbent MP’s key supporters include Barguna district Awami League Organizing Secretary Raisul Islam Ripon, who is also John’s father, Joint Secretary Abbas Hossain Montu Molla, Municipality Mayor Shahadat Hossain, Barguna sadar Upazila Awami League President Siddiqur Rahman, whose son Irfan Ahmed Bishal is the creator of Team 61, a Messenger chat group comprising Nayan’s loyal gang members. Siddiqur is also the brother-in-law of the incumbent MP, making Bishal and Sunam cousins.
Due to the lack of an organized youth support for the MP, Sunam formed an alternative informal structure, which included Nayan’s 007 Bond gang and Rifat Sharif, according to local political leaders.
The incumbent MP acknowledged Rifat Sharif’s role in shoring up support for him during the last polls in a conversation with Dhaka Tribune.
Maruf Mridha, senior joint secretary of Barguna district unit Awami League said, he was embarrassed by the political friction in Barguna as a party member. He demanded central investigations into the matter.
Jubayer also alleged that Rifat Sharif, and Nayan gradually drifted apart over the territorial disputes in the drug trade. While John continued to patronize Rifat Sharif, Nayan grew closer to Sunam, who also maintained close ties with John.
Over time, the distance would escalate from sniping to leading the local law enforcement for harassment of each other, as both were reported to have served as police sources.
Both Rifat Sharif and Nayan were charged in several cases involving narcotics. Neither John nor Sunam were ever named in any case. The Dhaka Tribune obtained photos of Nayan, Rifat Sharif, and John in various convivial settings. Sunam has also been seen in the company of the latter two on many occasions.
In a public statement to the press on April 28, 2018, Jubayer alleged that Sunam’s patronage also extended to his brother-in-law Avijit Talukdar, who has over a dozen cases filed against him ranging from robbery, abduction, rape, and racketeering. Other sources have confirmed that Avijit, and Nayan worked closely on many occasions.
Sunam, when contacted, said he knew Rifat Sharif, and that he works with John from time to time. But he denied knowing Nayan.
He said: “I heard that John, Nayan and Rifat Sharif were classmates, and may have hung out together. But, I have never used any of them for any nefarious purposes.”
John could not be reached for comments despite multiple attempts.
According to the Coast Guard, a yaba supply route from Myanmar unloads the shipments in Barguna’s Patharghata.
Also Read- Are power game, drugs behind Rifat murder?
A senior member of the ruling party in Barguna also alleged that, on an occasion when Nayan was handed to the police, Sunam hauled him off the police vehicle, and took him away.
When queried regarding the incident, Sunam said he did not recall any such incident, and denounced the allegations as preposterous.
Banking on Chhatra League
Several accomplices of Nayan were seen in Chhatra League programs. Rabby Akon, who has been arrested in connection with Rifat Sharif’s murder, was photographed with Jubayer Adnan Anik. He was also listed among the organizers of several Chhatra League programs in Barguna.
Jubayer could not be reached for comments. Tanvir Ahmed, general secretary of Barguna district unit of Chhatra League, refused to comment when asked if the organization will take action against Rabby.
‘You insulted our mother’
Screenshots from the Messenger chat group used by Nayan’s 007 Bond gang have shown it was Rifat Farazi, who asked the others in a Messenger chat group to bring machetes, and other bladed weapons.
Rifat Sharif’s wife Minni also claimed after the attack that there was resentment between the two Rifats over a recent incident.
On May 5, the married couple went to a restaurant. Rifat parked his bike at the gate of a house owned by Barguna Zila Parishad Chairman Delwar Hossain. When Delwar’s wife Shamsunnahar Khuki asked Rifat to remove the bike, he swore at her.
The restaurant had rented the space from Delwar, who asked them to move immediately after this incident. Rifat Farazi and Rishan Farazi are the sons of Khuki’s sister, and address her as “mother” following the death of her only son.
During the June 26 attack, the Farazi brothers repeatedly asked Rifat why he insulted their mother as they hacked at him, according to Minni, who at the time was seen trying to protect her husband.