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Police officer says they cannot reveal all about anti-terror operations

  • Golam Mujtaba Dhruba,
    Published: 2017-12-14 22:52:15 BdST


A senior police officer has told an anti-militancy programme in Dhaka that the law enforcers ‘have to play some tricks in teasing out information after catching militants’.

Biplob Kumar Sarker, Deputy Commissioner for Tejgaon zone of Dhaka Metropolitan Police, made the remarks at a seminar organised at Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College Hospital on Thursday amid concerns of rights organisations over enforced disappearances in recent times.

“We arrested one of you, an intern doctor. Didn’t we?” he asked the audience mainly consisting of young doctors.

“Uttam Da (the hospital’s Director Uttam Kumar Barua) knows. You organised human-chain programme, blocked street a year ago. But we cannot reveal information on picking someone up all the time. Not everything can be said.

“Because we have to glean some information from him (the arrestee),” he added.

In January last year, the hospital’s interns staged demonstration when of their peers Shamim Khan went missing.

Shamim was found unconscious in front of the office of the Detective Branch of police at Minto Road in Dhaka after 30 hours on Jan 3.

Dr Uttam told after the programme that police had picked up Shamim after being confirmed he had sheltered in the medical college hostel two people involved in the 2015 bombing at a naval base in Chittagong.

Shamim was sent to Mymensingh Medical College Hospital to finish his internship, he said.

Around a dozen people, including three politicians, a university teacher, a journalist, a former diplomat and a businessman, have gone missing in Dhaka in four months since August.

Businessman Aniruddha Roy and three others returned but the others have not been heard from.

The last such incident occurred on Dec 4 when former ambassador to Vietnam Maroof Zaman disappeared after leaving his Dhanmondi home to receive his daughter at airport.

Three masked youths later took away his laptop, the hard drive of the desktop computer, and some other electronic devices. The family said they handed over the things following a phone call by Maroof.

According to legal rights organisation Ain O Salish Kendra, 54 people went missing in Bangladesh between January and November this year.

Their families allege that law enforcers had picked them up but did not admit to doing so later.     

Seven of the 54 people returned home, the law enforcers showed five to have been arrested and two were found dead.

When several bloggers, writers, online activists and a publisher were being killed one after another, starting with Ahmed Rajib Haider’s murder in 2013, police appeared reluctant in arresting the suspects despite protests.

After the killing of 22 people, including 17 foreigners, in the attack on Holey Artisan Bakery at Gulshan in Dhaka on July 1 last year, the law enforcers launched a crackdown on militancy.

A number of suspected members of militant groups Neo-JMB, Ansarullah Bangla Team and Ansar Al Islam were killed and many others arrested in anti-terrorism operations.

DC Biplob said only ‘a little’ of the law enforcers’ anti-terrorism activities is revealed and many things happen behind the scenes.

“When police carry out an operation, when some are arrested, some killed, some arms and ammunition are seized, the activities get visible. But hundreds of incidents behind these remain unknown to you. You never know about them in the media,” he added.

He also warned that hundreds of youths were being radicalised.

“You think that nothing is happening. But it’s wrong. Many things are happening,” he said.  

The police officer claimed the law enforcers have tamed militancy, but could not uproot it.

“For this to happen, we need the youths to rise up,” he added.

Among others, Suchinta Foundation Director Qantara Khan spoke at the programme.