Inquiry panel formed by home ministry hears nine witnesses
The probe body formed by the Home Ministry to look into the killing of retired army officer Sinha Mohammad Rashed Khan, in Cox’s Bazar, says it expects to file its findings on August 23.
The inquiry headed by Chittagong’s additional divisional commissioner held a public hearing on Sunday as part of its investigation into the death of Major Sinha in a reported police firing.
“A total of 11 people registered to testify as witnesses, but we heard nine as the remaining two persons did not seem to be at the scene,” Additional Divisional Commissioner Mizanur Rahman told the media after the hearing.
He said the probe team visited “all the sites needed” and that statements of 60 people, including government employees, have been recorded.
Rahman said that their investigation was at its final stage and that they hope to file their findings on August 23.
The public hearing was held at the office of the Rohingya camp in-charge at Shamlapur of Teknaf’s Baharchhara union, not far from the site of the shooting on Marine Drive.
Police and army were deployed in and around the site of the public hearing.
One of the witnesses who testified on Sunday, said he was asked about Pradeep Kumar Das, the now suspended OC of Teknaf police and a prime suspect in the murder case initiated by the slain army officer’s family.
“I told the inquiry panel about the shooting incident and when they asked about OC Pradeep, I said that he ran an extortion racket over crossfires,” Delwar Hossain, a resident of Baharchhara Union’s Shamlapur, told the Dhaka Tribune over the phone.
According to media reports, at least 87 people were killed in 48 incidents of "gunfights" involving Teknaf police, between August 2018 and July 2020.
Many of the families of victims said their relatives were picked up by Teknaf police a day or two before being killed in what was described as gunfights. They said their loved ones were killed after they failed to bribe the police.
Following the July 31 killing of Sinha, the home ministry opened the high-level inquiry on August 12, headed by Chittagong’s additional divisional commissioner.
According to people familiar with the probe, the panel focused on finding out if the killing of Sinha was premeditated.
It’s also concentrating on whether Inspector Liakot Ali who shot Sinha, was told by anyone to do so, and whether the retired army officer pulled out his firearm, they said.
On the night of July 31, Major Sinha was shot dead at a police check-post on Marine Drive Road between Cox’s Bazar and Teknaf.
On August 5, Sinha’s sister, Sharmin Shahriar Ferdous, filed a case with the Senior Judicial Magistrate Court of Teknaf against nine people, including Pradeep and Liakat.
On August 6, all seven of the accused surrendered in court, which sent them to jail after scrapping their bail pleas.
Soon after the court’s order, the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), which is in charge of the probe, moved a petition for taking the suspects into custody. The court remanded Pradeep, Liakat, and Inspector Nanda Dulal Rakkhit, for seven days and gave investigators two days to interrogate the four other suspects.
The RAB has already started interrogating seven suspects, including four cops.
Assistant Sub-Inspector Liton Miah, and Constables Safanur Karim, Kamal Hossain, and Abdullah Al Mamun, are in the custody of RAB. The investigators are questioning three witnesses in the case started by police after the killing of Sinha.
Cox’s Bazar Correspondent Abdul Aziz provided inputs for this report