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Death of Akramul: Audio exposes moments of controversial anti-drug crackdown

  • News Desk bdnews24.com
    Published: 2018-06-01 17:56:23 BdST

Teknaf Municipality Councillor Akramul Haque was shot and killed on May 26 as the government expanded its controversial anti-drug crackdown. His family claims security forces killed Akram in cold blood.

Five days later, his family distributed four audio clips that recorded terrifying conversations between Akram and his daughter and wife before he died in a hail of bullets. The audio recorded on a mobile phone also captured sounds of gunfire and groans of the dying man.

bdnews24.com could not verify the authenticity of the audio.

The death of Akram illustrates how suspects are killed in overnight raids which security forces later routinely portray as gun battles.

FIRST CLIP

(Conversation between Ekram and his daughter)

Akram: Hello, where is your mother?

Daughter: She is at home, why?

Akram: I am going to the TNO office.

Daughter: Why?

Akram: It may take time to get back home. Go to sleep.

SECOND CLIP

(Conversation between Ekram and his daughter)

Daughter: Hello Abbu. Where are you?

Akram: I’m going to the TNO office and will return home soon.

Daughter: How long will it take?

Akram: It won't take long. I’ll come back, Inshallah. Go to sleep.

 

THIRD CLIP

(Conversation between Ekram and his daughter)

Akram: I am going to Hnila. Hnila.

Daughter: Hnila? Why?

Akram: For some urgent work.

Daughter: Urgent work? Why?

Akram: I'm going Ammu. OK?

FOURTH CLIP

A phone kept ringing.

Akram's wife Ayesha Begum: Allah ... please pick up the phone … pick up the phone.

Then someone received the phone.

Ayesha: I want to talk to the commissioner. Hello, who is this? Who received the call? I’m his wife.

Then, an unidentified man was heard asking: “Are you involved?”

A voice said no. 

Then gunshots rang out with a man groaning in pain and another man using expletives.

Ayesha sobbed: “My husband did nothing wrong. Where are you? Where are you? Where are you? Why are you killing him? He did nothing wrong.”

Pressed to comment on the audio by bdnews24.com, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said: “I haven’t listened to the audio yet. The BBC has asked me the same question. I'll look into the issue. "

"I have always said I will take action against someone who is guilty."

Mohammad Mufti Mahmud Khan, spokesman for the Rapid Action Battalion, toldbdnews24.com, “We have listened to the audio. There are many types of audio. We’ll look into it. "

"I am not aware of the audio record,” said RAB-7 Cox’s Bazar Camp Company Leader Maj Md Ruhul Amin.

“I will inform you later,” he said regarding the family’s claim.

Nazrul Islam, elder brother to the deceased, said Akram’s smartphone had a feature for auto-recording. He used several phones with Bluetooth on.

He said Akram called back on his own phone and the conversation was recorded.

CONTROVERSY

Mizanur Rahman, former chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, said: “It has severely questioned the entire operation.”

“There is a big question over its legitimacy and law and order. Those who are involved in human rights in some way or even the ordinary people who initially supported this campaign now realise that any family may fall in danger if anybody chooses to bypass the law.”

“This incident is a clear example.”

'RIGHT TO LIVE'

“People's right to live should be maintained”, says National Human Rights Commission Chairman Kazi Reazul Hoque.

The drive should be targeted to find out those involved in narcotics trade, patronising it or promoting its use and legal action has to be taken against them, he said. These issues need to be considered when law-enforcing agencies conduct drives. They should never kill anyone even when the offence is proved, rather should bring the perpetrator to book, the NHRC chief said.

Hoque said police should follow their rules and regulations in all cases. “If they are forced to encounter criminals, law-enforcement agents should do it within the purview of law.” 

He also demanded investigation into each of the deaths in ‘gun battles during drives’.

“Even the one that happened in Cox's Bazar should have been investigated by a magistrate to see in which context they had fired their weapons. Right to live is a basic right which should be upheld at all times,” Hoque said.

The NHRC chief also said they have written to the home minister the related laws and urged him to ensure that no innocent person gets their human rights violated.

The chairman said they will keep on advocating with the government agencies for ensuring human rights, when asked if any change has happened in the government’s role following the commission’s activities.

'RED SIGNAL'

‘Shootout’ has never been proved to be an effective measure to prevent drug trafficking or any other crime throughout the world, said TIB Executive Director Iftekharuzzaman.

Also, the way the government is patronising the law-enforcing agencies to use their power ignoring the law, it will pose a big threat to the human rights situation in the country, he said.

“It was a particular case but question arises as to whether or not it is happening as per law in all of the cases; the constitution and the law of the land never allow it. A criminal, too, has the right to have legal aid and defend himself,” he said as regards the Cox’s Bazar incident.