Kazi Shamsul Huda talks about the last time his son-in-law Nuban Ahmed was seen alive. Clad in a light green jacket against the chill of December, the young man, a teacher at Dhaka University’s Economics department, had gone to the Colour Museum at Asad Gate to get his camera lenses cleaned. Nasir Uddin Mithu, the manager of the store looked over the Pentax camera and recommended Haque and Sons, a shop in the Farm View Supermarket in Farmgate. The whole exchange lasted only three minutes, and Nuban went away with a smile. He never made it to Farmgate.
That evening, around 8:10pm, a police team on mobile duty nearby received an urgent call.
“We were at Tejkunipara when our police station via walkie talkie informed us that a group of people was beating up someone near Sangsad Bhaban at Manik Mia Avenue, opposite the T&T office,” said Md Jahirul Haque, a sub-inspector of Tejgaon police station in his court statement.
He rushed there and found a young man lying prone near a palm tree, in a field. He was bleeding profusely from head injuries.
The police rushed the man to the Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) for treatment. He was later identified as Nuban Ahmed. It was December 17, 1995.
According to a statement given before a Dhaka court, the cops on site asked Nuban about the attackers. He replied that an economics lecturer at DU, Mahbub Morshed, knew about the matter. “The attack was a result of jealousy,” he said.
There were a number of assumptions in the air. One was his wife’s involvement (with another man). Another was the role played by colleagues, especially Morshed’s involvement. Finally, there was the issue of students who used unfair means to pass exams
That night, senior investigators went to see Nuban at hospital and also visited the place of the incident.
“Senior officers requested the doctors to record his death bed statement. We later informed his family members and brought them to the hospital,” said Jahirul.
Nuban died nine days after the attack at the DMCH.
His death agitated students and colleagues alike, but ultimately a lack of proficiency and professionalism by the investigators had made it a weak case. A total of three police officials had investigated the case. The latest investigator, CID Assistant Superintendent Md Aminul Islam, pressed charges in July 2002.
The courts, which have been delaying the trial of the murder case, have changed date of verdict 12 times, only to scrap it all and restart from argument stage. Following the fresh start, the trial is at the witness deposition stage for the second time.
Nuban’s father-in-law Kazi Shamsul Huda, mother-in-law Meherunnesa, and seven others gave depositions as prosecution witnesses.
Family members have yet to get the justice even though 22 years have gone by since the fatal attack on Nuban.
In search of suspects and a motive
At the trial court, state counsel Md Shahabuddin said it could not draw a conclusion as the investigation was improperly conducted and that witness deposition evidence was not strong enough.
KM Alamgir, a residence of Jajira in Shariyatpur, was initially arrested then dropped from the charge sheet. The charge sheet accuses Nuban’s colleague AKM Morshed, Nuban’s wife Kazi Sohana Naznin Lipi, and her alleged boyfriend Mahaiminur Rahman Milton alias Milu.
After the killing, Nuban’s wife Sohana married Milu and without her family’s consent, the couple moved to the US and never came back. Morshed obtained a scholarship to a US university and also left the country.
Although the charge sheet names Nuban’s wife and her “boyfriend” as complicit in the killing, Nuban’s family members denounced this stating that the investigation was faulty.
They believe that Nuban was killed as he stood against corruption in the department and “muscle student politics.” The coterie of corrupted students and teachers allegedly had pro-Jamaat support.
A number of people who had kept an eye on the incidents at the DU economics department in 1995 told the Dhaka Tribune that the situation was unclear even then and the murder made things even murkier.
“There were a number of assumptions in the air. One was his wife’s involvement (with another man). Another was the role played by colleagues, especially Morshed’s involvement. Finally, there was the issue of students who used unfair means to pass exams,” said a colleague of Nuban, on condition of anonymity.
The teacher said the murder remains a mystery. “Nobody knew what actually happened. As far as I remember, there was no conflict of political interest in it,” the teacher said.
Amid all the allegations and accusations, the latest court date was set in November 2017, but was deferred to March 7, 2018, granting the prosecution lawyer his filed motion. First Session Judge Md Hafizur Rahman who had fixed the November date was transferred recently. His replacement, Judge Abdullah-Al-Mamun, is now conducting the trial. This brings the total number of judges who have presided over the case to a total of 13 over the past 15 years it has been at court.
On March 7, the court fixed April 24 as the date the verdict on the case will be delivered.