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Death in custody: 5 cops closed amid protest in Rangpur

  • Published at 06:39 pm October 16th, 2019
Map of Rangpur Dhaka Tribune

The sexagenarian deceased was reportedly held with illegal bootleg liquor

Five policemen in Rangpur were taken off duty yesterday amid protests after a suspected drug dealer was allegedly beaten to death inside an outpost in the Pirgonj upazila, Rangpur.

At least 25 people were injured when police charged baton and fired blank and rubber bullets to disperse the agitating locals, who had laid a siege on the outpost in Prigonj’s Vendabari union, demanding punishment of the policemen involved in the reported custodial death.

Seven of the injured were admitted to Rangpur Medical College Hospital in critical condition, while several others were taken to the Pirgonj Upazila Health Complex.

The deceased was identified his family as goat trader Shamsul Islam, 60 of Mithapukur upazila.

Pirgonj police station OC Saresh Chandra claimed Shamsul was detained from Baradarga Bazar around 8pm on Tuesday with 15 litres of illegal bootleg liquor by members of Vendabari police outpost.

“Shamsul hanged himself using his clothes inside the outpost yesterday morning,” he said, claiming the sexagenarian was a drug dealer.

Shamsul’s family and locals, however, claimed that the man was beaten to death inside the outpost by its In-Charge Sub-Inspector (SI) Aminul Islam and police’s informant Zia.

The family also claimed that SI Aminul had demanded Tk1 lakh as bribe from them for Shamsul’s release. Dhaka Tribune could not independently verify the claim.

After the news of Shamsul’s death broke in the morning, hundreds of locals surrounded the outpost and blockaded the Vendabari-Baradarga road.

Immediate action

The protests ended later in the afternoon after Rangpur’s Superintendent of Police (SP) Biplab Kumar Roy visited the scene and talked to the locals.

He also immediately closed five officers of the outpost and ordered their attachment to the Rangpur Police Lines.

The closed officers are SI Aminul, Assistant SIs Shah Alam, Harikant Barman and Tajuddin, Constable Ariful Islam, said Additional SP Hafizur Rahman.

SP Biplab also told reporters that an investigation committee was formed and given 48 hours to submit their report. He also ordered police to arrest informant Zia within 24 hours.

“Stern action will be taken against anyone found even remotely involved in the incident,” he stressed.

Contradicting Pirgonj police OC Saresh’s claim, the SP also said he was told that Shamsul was held with 30 litres of liquor.

“He was fine even on Wednesday morning, but apparently hanged himself after 9am,” he added.

While locals questioned the legitimacy of police’s claim that Shamsul committed suicide, some senior police officials also even wondered why members of outpost decided to get the hanging body down before higher officials or the coroners and forensic team arrived at the scene.

Bribery in play?

Shamsul’s daughter Santona Begum said his father was a goat trader and a devout Muslim. “He was never involved with bootleg liquor trade.”

She said: “After detaining my father, SI Aminul and informant Zia had demanded Tk1 lakh from us. As we could not give them the money, they framed my father as a drug dealer and tortured him overnight to death.

“Now, they are trying to cover-up the whole thing by claiming that my father killed himself.”

Santona said she had gone to the police outpost with some local influential individuals on Tuesday night, but SI Aminul said Shamsul would be sent to court in a drugs case if they fail to pay them.

The woman also demanded maximum punishment for Aminul and Zia for killing her father.