Family members of an elderly handicraft maker in Narayanganj’s Sonargaon have accused plainclothed Rapid Action Battalion members of killing the man during an operation to arrest his neighbour.
The incident took place at around 12:30 am on Sunday in the Borgan area under the Sadipur Union of the Upazila.
Ramiza Begum, the wife of the deceased Abul Kashem, said her husband, who failed to identify RAB members as they were not donning their usual uniform, attempted to help the neighbour, a garment worker named Selim, believing that a group of bandits was dragging Selim.
During the melee, according to Ramiza’s narrative, a RAB member shot the 65-year-old Kashem from close range. Another neighbour, a 50-year-old pharmacist named Humayun Kabir, was shot in both legs.
Kashem, the father of six children, was rushed to Sonargaon Upazila Health Complex, where he was pronounced dead, said Resident Medical Officer Mosharraf Hossain.
“The deceased had a gunshot wound in his abdomen,” he said.
Bachchu Mia, in charge of the Dhaka Medical College Hospital police outpost, said Huamyun had been admitted for gunshot injury treatment.
A relative of Humayun, who did not want to reveal his identity, said the pharmacist did not realise that the men who came to pick up Selim were law enforcement personnel.
The relative also accused a team of uniformed police, who arrived after the RAB group had left the scene, of vandalising several houses.
“Police also picked up at least 20 people, for apparently no reason,” he said.
Senior police officers in Narayaganj dismissed the allegation of police involvement in the incident and referred the matter to the RAB-11 unit, which was quarterbacking the operation.
“We were told that some men swopped on the RAB members while securing an arrestee in the Borgan area. The attackers fired some rounds of bullets at the RAB members. One of the attackers was shot when the RAB members fired back in defence. At least two RAB members were seriously injured during the exchange,” said Narayanganj Superintendent of Police Golam Mostafa Russell.
He also confirmed that police did not arrest anyone in connection to the incident.
‘RAB MEN ACTED IN SELF-DEFENCE’
Meanwhile, Lt Col Tanvir Mahmud Pasha, commander of the RAB-11 unit, which led the operation in Borgan, claimed that the associates of Selim, accused of slaying a woman, attacked his men so that they could snatch him from custody.
“Some yet-to-be-identified cohorts of Selim attacked RAB personnel with guns and machetes. The RAB members deployed for the operation shot back to defend themselves and secure the arrestee. Later we learnt that a man was found dead at the site,” he said.
He confirmed that four members of the group were injured. One of them sustained grave injuries in his skull, Lt Col Pasha said.
“I don’t buy the narrative that the attackers could not identify my men as RAB members. Everyone knows the team went there to make an arrest. It’s just an excuse.”
However, the RAB commander confirmed that another RAB group later returned to the site and picked up at least 20 people for questioning.
“We will file a case in this connection by tonight,” he said.