Three police officers have been relieved of duty in Narayanganj's Sonargaon Upazila after the death of a local businessman allegedly due to police brutality.
The district's Additional Superintendent of Police Chailau Marma said ASI Ilyas Ahmed and two constables have been withdrawn from their positions and attached to the police lines while allegations against them are being investigated.
Nurul Islam, a poultry trader, died following a police raid on his house in Burumadi's Madhyapara village on Monday.
Subsequently, Nurul's two daughters and relatives alleged that he fell ill and died after being physically assaulted by the police over a demand for a bribe.
But the police claimed that the 55-year-old Nurul suffered a "a panic-induced heart attack after encountering the law enforcers".
When bdnews24.com visited Nurul's home on Tuesday, his daughters declined to discuss their father's death, appearing visibly distraught.
Nurul Islam, a well-known figure in the village, resided in a one-storey brick house in Madhyapara village with his wife after his five daughters were married.
On Tuesday, Nurul's son-in-law, Mohammad Hossain, and daughter Shilpi Akhter spoke to bdnews24.com in the yard of a neighbouring house. However, they did not want to discuss Monday's incident with the media.
In a tearful plea, Shilpi said, "We have no complaints against anyone, and we have reached a settlement. My father died of natural causes. We don't want any more trouble. Please leave."
The events involving the police raid on the house, Nurul Islam's subsequent death, and the settlement are known to neighbouring villagers.
A resident of Ward No. 6 of Jampur Union, located at least three kilometres from Nurul's house, brought this reporter to a separate location to share details of the incident in Prabhakardi Bazar.
At least 12 local residents, including Nurul's two brothers, sister-in-law, cousin, and four neighbours, spoke about the incident. They all asserted that Nurul was subjected to abuse for failing to meet the police's demands for a bribe. Nurul had undergone open-heart surgery three years ago, and his health was fragile.
Locals said that Nurul was a known supporter of the Jatiya Party and frequently attended their meetings.
During an interview near Nurul's house, his younger brother, Shamsul Islam, explained, "Upon hearing screams, I came out of the house and saw ASI Ilyas. He is known to almost everyone in this village. My brother was handcuffed, and he was struggling to breathe.
"I told the police that my brother was a heart patient who had undergone surgery, and they should not handle him in such a manner. Ilyas ignored my pleas and continued to apprehend him. I then went to the market, leaving the scene."
With tears in his eyes, Shamsul continued, "I later learnt that my elder brother had passed away due to illness while in police custody."
On the day of the incident, a neighbouring farmer named SM Imran, also known as Tipu, entered Nurul's house upon hearing the commotion. Tipu, a witness to the incident, questioned the police's actions, saying that they had raided the house without a warrant, failed to discover any wrongdoing, and handcuffed Nurul.
"If a genuine crime has been committed, the police should act in accordance with the law. The police have no right to subject anyone to torture. In this case, no drugs were found, but the police demanded money and left with it. Nurul's wife paid them," Tipu recounted.
On Monday night, Nurul's daughter, Mithila Akhter, informed reporters that ASI Ilyas from the Taltala Police Investigation Centre under the Sonargaon Police Station visited their home with a constable.
Both were dressed in plain clothes and demanded Tk 100,000, threatening to implicate Nurul in a 'political case' if they did not pay. The family offered to pay Tk 50,000, but it was declined and ASI Ilyas attempted to handcuff Nurul and take him away, according to Mithila.
A scuffle ensued when Nurul tried to resist, leading to the police punching and beating him with sticks. The police left the scene after Nurul fell to the ground. When family members took Nurul to the Araihazar Upazila Health Complex, he was declared dead by doctors.
According to the emergency department registrar, Nurul was admitted to the hospital around 5:30 pm. However, the resident doctor, Ashraful Amin, could not provide details about the cause of his death.
Following news of Nurul's death, the two police officers returned to the house, but enraged relatives locked them in a room for at least two hours, according to locals.
Later in the evening, Additional Superintendent of Police Sheikh Billal Hossain and Sonargaon Police Station chief Mahbub Alam arrived and rescued the two officers.
Narayanganj-3 MP and Jatiya Party Presidium member Liakat Hossain Khoka visited the site upon hearing the news. Witnesses said Liakat had a lengthy conversation with Nurul's family and the police.
Following the discussion, Nurul's family agreed to bury the body without an autopsy. Subsequently, the police officers left the premises, and Nurul's body was laid to rest. The family did not file a written complaint with the police station.
Several attempts were made to contact ASI Ilyas for comment, but he could not be reached.
Meanwhile, Saiful Islam, the inspector in charge of Taltala Police Investigation Centre, said the police had conducted the raid on Nurul's house based on a tip-off about narcotics. However, they left without finding any drugs. He expressed concerns about Nurul's health, given his heart condition.
When asked about police conducting the raid in plain clothes, the officer explained that sometimes the police use civilian attire when it is deemed necessary.
However, the officer could not confirm if there were any previous drug-related charges against Nurul.