Monday, August 19, 2019

Arrest warrant for ex-OC Moazzem triggers ‘cold war’ between Feni and Rangpur police

  • Liton Haider, Chief Crimes Correspondent, bdnews24.com
    Published: 2019-06-10 04:14:11 BdST

Police have tailed to arrest former OC of their Sonagazi station Moazzem Hossain two weeks after a court issued a warrant in a case over a video statement of slain Feni madrasa student Nusrat Jahan Rafi.

Police in Feni and Rangpur, where Moazzem was transferred after the allegations of him recording and circulating the video on social media surfaced, point the finger at each other for the failure to arrest him, citing legal reasons.

“The more police will delay the arrest of Moazzem, the more they will lose people’s trust,” Nusrat’s brother Mahmudul Hasan Noman told bdnews24.com on Sunday.

Transparency International, Bangladesh or TIB also questioned police’s sincerity in arresting one of their own, demanding judicial investigation into the entire episode.

As police now say Moazzem has fled, TIB Executive Director Iftekharuzzaman asked whether they let him give them the slip.

Syed Sayedul Haque Sumon, the lawyer who started the case against Moazzem under the Digital Security Act, is disappointed.

“The inspector general of police should have taken measures himself considering the sensitivity of the case, but he hasn't,” Sumon told bdnews24.com.

“Let’s see what happens now as police in both Feni and Rangpur have admitted receipt of the arrest warrant,” he added.

Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal told reporters in Dhaka that it takes time to arrest someone one the run.

The Bangladesh Cyber Tribunal in Dhaka issued the arrest warrant for Moazzem on May 27 after the Police Bureau of Investigation or PBI submitted the report on an investigation that found evidence of the allegations brought against Moazzem.

Two days later, the former OC sought anticipatory bail from the High Court through a lawyer as his colleagues remained in the dark about his whereabouts.

Now the issue of following the warrant of his arrest seems to have triggered a cold war between police in Feni and Rangpur.

Feni Acting Superintendent of Police Qazi Moniruzzaman had repeatedly denied receipt of the warrant even after it reached his office on May 31.

He finally admitted receiving the warrant on June 3, but forwarded it to Rangpur Range.

In Rangpur, police say they are returning the warrant to Feni as proper rules were not followed in forwarding it.

If a police unit is unable to find someone in the address mentioned in arrest warrant, they can seek help to arrest the suspect only after being certain about his or her whereabouts, a police official in Rangpur said, requesting that he not be named.

“They can’t forward an arrest warrant directly,” said the official, who was not authorised to speak about the issue.

Moazzem will now be asked to surrender via mail to his address, but will face legal action if he does not respond, and the process will start on Monday, according to the official.

Asked about his whereabouts, Rangpur Range chief DIG Debdas Bhattacharya told bdnews24.com on Sunday they received the warrant on Saturday.

“There has been no trace of him since May 27. His mobile phone is switched off,” Debdas said.

Feni Acting SP Moniruzzaman claimed they forwarded the warrant to Rangpur following rules.

Md Moin Uddin, the incumbent OC of Sonagazi Police Station, said he will take necessary steps once he gets the warrant.

“Let’s not talk about what has happened. We are looking for him now,” he replied, when asked whether it was within the rules to forward the warrant to Rangpur.

He also said they would look for Moazzem in his ancestral home at Chachra village in Jashore Sadar Upazila.

Jashore Kotwali Police Station OC Opurba Hasan said they would take action after getting a formal request.

Moazzem recorded Nusrat’s statement with his mobile phone after she had brought charges of sexual harassment against Sonagazi Islamia Fazil (Degree) Madrashah principal SM Siraj-ud-Daula in March.

The video was released on social media amidst widespread protest over a deadly arson attack on Nusrat allegedly by followers of Siraj, who had already landed in jail on the sexual abuse charges, in April.

Moazzem, first transferred and then suspended along with three other police officials for negligence in handling the Nusrat case, had denied circulating the video on social media.

Someone had stolen the video from his mobile phone and released it on the Internet, he had said.

The prosecution has sought Moazzem’s inclusion in the charge-sheet of Nusrat murder case as well.

[Additional input by Feni Correspondent Nazmul Haque Shamim]