Many missing people have returned to their homes after a long or a short time. But most of them have been reluctant to disclose the real reason behind their disappearances to the media. Even law enforcement agencies have showed little interest in investigating the mystery behind the disappearances.
However, police officials claim that after talking to people who have returned, they have unraveled the mystery behind these incidents.
Affiliated police sources said that there are on-going investigations into several disappearance cases.
But when the police get to know that other law enforcement agencies have taken people who have returned into custody for interrogation about their alleged involvement in militancy and anti-state activities, they do not pursue the matter any further.
Otherwise, they take legal steps towards solving the disappearance incidents.
On the other hand, affiliated police sources have said that most of the people who had returned refused to divulge information because of family and personal reasons. And if there are no complainants, sometimes on moral grounds, the police often decide to let the trail go cold.
And then, the mystery behind the disappearances remains unsolved.
A culture of fear?
On October 15, 2016, Dr Iqbal Mahmud was kidnapped from the capital’s Science Laboratory area at around 3 in the morning. He was coming back from Lakhsmipur by a night coach.
Seven months later on May 31, 2017, Iqbal returned to his Lakhsmipur house. Besides police from the Dhanmondi police station, the Lakhsmipur police also investigated the matter. However, both of them were unable to find out anything.
After his return, Iqbal refused to say anything about his kidnappers except informing that they [the kidnappers] had not inflicted any torture on him, and had treated him well.
Tech specialist Tanvir Hasan Reza returned to his house a week after he was kidnapped on March 22, 2016. But due to his unwillingness to talk to the police, no information behind his kidnapping was ever found out.
Assistant Professor of the Department of Political Science and Sociology at North South University Mubashar Hasan Cesar went missing on November 7 last year. 44 days later, he came back to his Banasree house in Dhaka on December 21.
When talking to the media, Cesar said: “I was probably abducted for ransom. But my abductors contacted my family members for money instead of directly asking me. However, they let me go without getting any ransom.”
Cesar’s sister Tamanna Tasnim told the journalists that her family was happy just to get him back, and did not have complaints against anyone.
Similar reluctance to talk to law enforcement or media was observed in the case of journalist Utpal Das, who was abducted from Dhaka on October 10, 2017, and who returned on December 19 of the same year.
Abu Bakar Siddique, husband of Syeda Rizwana Hasan, chief executive of Bangladesh Environment Lawyers Association (BELA), was abducted on April 2014. No leads have been found on that case yet.
The latest incident to occur was when Shajol Chowdhury, owner of several businesses including a ship breaking venture in Chittagong, was taken from his Bashundhara residence on March 11, and later dumped by his kidnappers in Comilla’s Daudkandi upazila after a week.
Shajol’s mother said that she and her son suspected the abduction may have been related to Shajol’s failed second marriage or a dispute with a business partner, but the claims were not verified.
Complicated legal procedures
When asked why the mystery behind the disappearances does not get solved, Deputy Commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan (Public Relations) Masudur Rahman said: “A person might go missing for various reasons. He or she could have been embroiled in a personal dispute because of financial or family reasons.
“On the other hand, a person may get kidnapped just for ransom,” continued Masudur. “Mostly, these are the reasons behind a person’s disappearance.”
The Deputy Commissioner further said: “Oftentimes, we do not get to know anything about a person’s disappearance. In that case, we have to rely upon our personal intelligence sources. Simultaneously, if the family of the missing person, or other law enforcement agencies lodge a complaint, we file a case and try solving the mystery.”
He said: “If we recover any victims in a missing person’s case, we interrogate that individual as part of our investigations. The reasons behind his vanishing become relevant matters to us, and we try to find them out.
“But if we have no information on the incident, and if no one has lodged a formal complaint, then even if a person comes back after abduction, we cannot interrogate that person,” said Masudur.
This article was first published on banglatribune.com