CCTV footage inconclusive
Thirty-one years old at the time of his death in police custody, Mamun Hossain was a resident of Hashara union under Sreenagar upazila in Munshiganj.
After his return from Malaysia two years ago, he had been running an auto-rickshaw garage in Laskarpur Bazar of the area by renting a tin-shed shop owned by the Dhali family of the area. Often he himself drove one of the three wheeled vehicles from his garage.
According to Mamun’s kin and the Dhali family, Mamun’s father, Abul Hossain, and the shop owner’s wife, Razia Begum, 35, were involved in an extramarital affair. This started a rift between the two families.
Razia went missing on Saturday and Mamun was accused of kidnapping her, but he denied the allegation.
On Monday afternoon, two policemen from Sreenagar police station in white clothes picked up Mamun and took him to the front of the Dhali family house.
That night, Mamun Hossain died at Nawabganj police station under Dhaka district. Nawabganj police have said he committed suicide after suffering through a mass beating.
Mamun’s sister Sharmin Akter said: “On Monday afternoon, police dragged my brother towards Razia Begum’s house.”
In the evening, Tyeb Dhali along with some others picked up Sharmin, her mother Maksuda Begum and aunt Begum Akter. Two policemen in white were present too.
Sharmin told Dhaka Tribune: “Two policemen handed over my brother to the Dhali family and went away. When we arrived there, Tyeb Dhali, Kamrul Dhali, Iman Dhali, Hashem Dhali, Rubel Dhali, and Mubarak Dhali mercilessly beat my brother.
“We were beaten too after we urged them to spare my brother.”
She continued: “After a while, members of the Dhali family said they had come to know that Razia’s dead body was found in Nawabganj via Facebook. They started beating Mamun again after that. Then they called the Sreenagar police station and handed him over to them.”
Meanwhile, Nawabganj police station Officer-in-Charge (OC) Sirajul Islam Sheikh said: “The body of a woman named Razia Begum was recovered and the victim’s family accused Mamun of the murder. After the dead body was recovered, locals gave Mamun a mass beating.
“Police rescued Mamun and handed him over to Nawabganj police station on Monday night.”
The OC said: “Mamun committed suicide in the lock-up bathroom by wrapping his lungi around his neck and hanging himself at around 1:30am. CCTV footage clearly shows that he committed suicide.”
Analysis of the 1:22 minute footage shows Mamun — who had been sitting on a bed — walking to the bathroom. He then closed the bathroom door from inside and took off his lungi. Notably, the bathroom does not have a ceiling.
However, there is no footage of Mamun wrapping his lungi around his neck or committing suicide.
Regarding this fact, OC Sirajul said: “The bathroom has a window that Mamun used to hang himself. The window can’t be seen from the CCTV camera.”
Razia Begum used to collect the rent for the shop that Mamun and his father used as an autorickshaw garage as her husband lives in Malaysia. The shop and Razia’s house are very closely located.
Mamun’s father Abul Hossain went missing 11 days before Razia went missing.
According to Mamun’s family and some locals, two policemen in white clothes handed Mamun over to the members of the Dhali family in front of the garage on Monday. The police also asked Mamun to return Razia Begum to her family within two days.
Suicide or murder?
Mamun's body was autopsied at Sir Salimullah Medical College and Mitford Hospital morgue in Old Dhaka on Wednesday. Earlier, an inquest report was prepared in the presence of a magistrate.
Present at the morgue, Mamun’s sister Sharmin and cousin Monir Hossain told Dhaka Tribune: “On that night when Sreenagar police picked up Mamun for the second time, he only had black marks on his body. But after the body was brought to the morgue, there were big wounds on the neck.
“Moreover, one of the features of a hanging victim is tongue protrusion. However, Mamun’s tongue was inside his mouth. It’s clear that a suicide drama is being staged after he was killed.”
They continued: “Whether Mamun was involved in Razia Begum's murder is a matter of police investigation. And he could’ve been given the death penalty if he was actually involved.”
“Instead, the police handed him over to the Dhali family. He was beaten and then killed in police custody,” claimed Sharmin and Monir.
Sreenagar police station Sub-Inspector (SI) Malek and Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) Mizan demanded Tk50,000 from them to spare Mamun, alleged Sharmin. As they were unable to pay the bribe, a suicide drama was staged.
Denying these claims, SI Malek said: “I didn’t detain anyone by that name and I don't know anything about this.”
Locals said Mamun was not beaten by the public, but it was the Dhali family which beat him in anger.
Razia Begum’s abduction and blackmail
Kamrul Dhali, brother-in-law of the deceased Razia Begum, said: “Mamun was wandering around the place when my sister-in-law went to fetch water from the tube well of our house on Saturday afternoon.
“She went missing in the evening. Then we kept calling Mamun’s number repeatedly on suspicion that he had abducted her but he didn’t receive our calls.
“At around 9:30pm that day, we sought help from the local members. They called Mamun but he denied the allegations about abduction.”
Acknowledging his sister-in-law’s extramarital affair with Mamun’s father Abul, Kamrul said: “Mamun's sisters had recorded videos of my sister-in-law taking a bath. Even on the day she went missing, Mamun and his sisters blackmailed us over the video and demanded Tk1 lakh as extortion money.
“She was killed as we couldn’t pay the money.”
Denying beating Mamun, Kamrul said two policemen in white did indeed pick Mamun up from his house.
Regarding Mamun’s mysterious death in police custody, Barrister Jyotirmoy Barua said: “Usually, if someone dies in police custody, the victim’s family does not dare to file a case against the police.”
And even if a case is lodged, it is the police themselves who are given the responsibility of investigating the case, he added.
He demanded judicial inquiries into every death in police custody to prevent such cases in future.