“Rabbi left home in April, telling his sister that he was going to join jihad. He said he would meet his family on the Judgement Day,” said Afzal Hossain Dodul, deputy commander of Muktijoddha Sangsad Jessore Sadar committee and a neighbour. “After he left, I helped his father in filing a general diary with police.”
The Dhaka Tribune tried to contact Rabbi’s father Kazi Habibullah yesterday morning; after several attempts, he agreed to speak with this correspondent on the ground floor of his house, from behind a curtain.
“I learnt of my son’s death on Saturday evening. Write reports on him of you want, I don’t have a problem with that. But what about those who made my son a militant? Why is the government not doing anything to catch them?” he said.
Asked if he would collect his son’s dead body, he said: “Of course, I will,” before leaving abruptly.
Afzal said Rabbi would likely be buried at his ancestral village in Magura district.
The Dhaka Tribune also spoke to a number of people who live in the same locality as Rabbi’s family in Kismat Nawapara, Jessore Sadar upazila. All of them said Rabbi was shy and polite, but was not very social and did not mix with other boys his age in the neighbourhood.
“Rabbi was a recluse and was always using his laptop. Whenever his parents entered his room, he promptly shut it down. Different jihadi books were found in his house, which were destroyed by his father,” said Moshiar Rahman, the family’s neighbour.
“The only person he was visibly friendly with was the imam at the local mosque, Md Yahiya. Yahiya tried to radicalise a number of local boys, but Rabbi was the only one to fall into the trap,” said local resident Shafiul Alam.
When locals discovered Yahiya’s militancy recruitment, they threw him out of the mosque.
A brief profile
Rabbi was identified by his National ID card that police found in his pocket, said Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crimes (CTTC) unit chief Monirul Islam.
His name was also listed in the anti-militancy poster prepared by Jessore police, which had the names and photos of local suspected militants, the CTTC chief added.
Jessore police published the poster last month listing the names of five suspected militants; Rabbi’s name was the second on the list.
He was studying physics at Jessore Government Michael Madhusudan College, and was in second year when he went missing on April 5.
Prof Mizanur Rahman, principal of Rabbi’s college said he was a brilliant student. “He scored GPA 5 in his SSC and GPA 4.6 in his HSC exams. His first year final results were impressive too.”
His father Habibullah, a retired principal, filed the GD on April 7 with Kotwali police station, sources said. He also published an open letter in two national dailies, begging his son to come back home.
Sources in intelligence agencies said Rabbi used to be a followe of Islami Chhatra Shibir, the student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami, but he left Shibir to join militant activities.
But it is not yet clear which militant group he was connected to, they added.
Jessore Superintendent of Police Anisur Rahman said Rabbi’s father initially reported in the GD that his son left home without saying anything. “But later we found out that he left home to join militants. His parents tried numerous times to bring him back, but failed.”
Asked about imam Yahiya, he said police were working to find out everyone who instigated, financed and helped Rabbi. “All of them will be brought to book.”