'We were informed about the incident on Sunday'
Shahedul Islam Sifat, Shipra Rani Debnath, and Tahsin Rifat Noor -- students of Stamford University’s film and media studies department -- were the crew members of Major (retd) Sinha Md Rashed Khan.
All of them was in Cox’s Bazar to shoot a travel documentary for Sinha’s YouTube channel named “Just Go.”
Instead of going to different places, exploring new horizons, and working their magic through the camera lens, Sifat and Shipra are now in jail after their team leader, Sinha, was killed by the police at the coastal district’s Marine Drive.
Sifat, who accompanied Sinha at the time of the incident, was arrested right after the killing of the former Army major and he was sent to jail in a case filed by police.
Following this, Shipra and Rifat were held by police over allegations of storing liquor and marijuana in their rooms at Himchhari’s Nilima Resort.
However, the next day, Rifat was handed over to his relatives but Shipra was shown arrested and sent to jail in a narcotics case.
Speaking to Dhaka Tribune, the teachers and guardians of Sifat, Shipra, and Rifat said they had never imagined that these three students would have to go through such a horrific ordeal.
Contacted, Sifat’s local guardian Sangsad TV’s Producer Masum Billah said that he is currently in Cox’s Bazar and dealing with the case filed against Sifat.
“We have submitted a bail petition to the court for him [Sifat]. The court has fixed Sunday to hear our plea,” he said.
According to him, Sifat’s mother lives in the United Kingdom, and because of this, Sifat and his sister used to live with him.
He said that Sifat was a freelance photographer and was very passionate about both photography and videography.
Sifat used to work in different projects as part of his academic curriculum, he added.
Masum said his nephew got in contact with Sinha a year or two ago and as a part of their collaboration, Sifat went to Cox's Bazar to make a documentary with him as the person behind the camera.
When asked about the allegations made against Sifat, Masum said that Sifat is an introvert and he always stayed away from any criminal activities.
Meanwhile, Shipra’s mother, who lives in Mirpur upazila of Kushtia, told Dhaka Tribune that her daughter was very passionate about film making and thus got herself admitted in the Stamford University’s film and media studies department.
“She has no bad habits. We are just shocked by what happened with our kid,” she added while seeking anonymity.
“We are confused. Everyone in the family is now terrified,” she added.
According to the mother, Shipra was living alone in Dhaka’s Rampura area for her studies.
“We were informed about the incident on Sunday. The allegations brought against my daughter are untrue and fabricated,” she alleged.
Shipra’s father is a retired BGB officer.
Moreover, teachers and students at Stamford University Bangladesh have demanded proper investigation into the heinous incident and sought justice.
Fayjul Kabir Rothi, a former student of the university and a good friend of Sifat and Shipra, said: “Both Sifat and Shipra are very passionate about their work.
“Both of them are calm and are of very good behaviour.”
Co-ordinator of the university’s film and media studies department, Associate Prof SM Matin Rahman said: “As far as I know Sifat and Shipra are in jail and Rifat was released after questioning.”
“But all three of them are quite brilliant students,” he added.
“We have some practical courses every semester and therefore students have to work with different projects to gather practical experience,” he said, adding, “Besides, these three bore their educational expenses through the earnings from such projects.”
When contacted for comments, Ramu police station OC Abul Khayer refused to talk and suggested to the correspondent to speak with the additional SP (admin) of Cox’s Bazar police. However, the phone of the additional SP (admin) remained unanswered despite several attempts.