Red alert as Dhaka police hunt for two escaped convicts sentenced to death for militancy

A Tk 2 million bounty is on offer for leads on the whereabouts of militants, condemned to death over the killings of Faysal Arefin Dipon and Avijit Roy

Senior Correspondent
Published : 20 Nov 2022, 10:28 AM
Updated : 20 Nov 2022, 10:28 AM

The authorities have announced a Tk 2 million reward for information leading to the capture of two death-row convicts who escaped from police custody after overpowering them with a yet-to-be-identified spray in Dhaka.

The prisoners managed to give law enforcers the slip while they were being escorted to a court in Dhaka to testify in a case on Sunday, according to Kotwali Police Station chief Mizanur Rahman.

The convicts, identified as Moinul Hasan Shamim alias Samir and Abu Siddique Sohel aliases Sakib, Sajid and Sahab, were members of the outlawed militant organisation Ansar Al Islam. They received the death penalty for their involvement in the killings of Jagriti Prokashoni publisher Faysal Arefin Dipon and writer Avijit Roy.

A manhunt is currently underway, with a bounty of Tk 1 million being placed on the heads of each convict, according to Farooq Hossain, deputy commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police's media and public relations department.

RED ALERT ISSUED AS POLICE OPEN PROBE

Police have also issued a red alert following their escape, said DMP Commissioner Khandker Golam Faruq.

"We are making efforts to catch them. We would request everyone to cooperate with the police."

The DMP has constituted a five-strong committee to look into the incident. The probe panel has been given five days to report back with its findings. It has also been tasked with providing detailed recommendations on measures to prevent such incidents in the future.

SC CALLS FOR HEIGHTENED SECURITY

After the incident, the Supreme Court ordered law enforcement to beef up security at court premises across the country.

"We have verbally asked [law enforcement agencies] to strengthen security at all subordinate courts," said Md Saifur Rahman, registrar of the apex court.

Both Moinul and Abu Siddique were behind bars at the Kashimpur Central Jail in Gazipur and had been transported to Dhaka to testify in another case in front of a special anti-terrorism tribunal, said Deputy Commissioner Hossain.

"They sprayed something on the eyes of the policemen in charge of escorting them to the court and escaped."

MINISTER VOWS ACTION

Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said several associates of the two militants sprayed a chemical to knock the policemen unconscious and fled with the convicts.

“It’s an unfortunate incident. We’ll take proper action against anyone if they are found to be negligent or did it willingly,” he said.

Asaduzzaman said police would be able to catch the escaped militants soon.

A POLICEMAN WAS HIT IN THE HEAD AND NOSE

Constable Noor-e-Azad, one of the policemen injured in the incident, was transferred to the National Institute of Ophthalmology and Hospital from the Central Police Hospital, said Faruk Hossain, a spokesman for the Dhaka Metropolitan Police.

Azad, 39, was seen sitting with his nose bandaged outside the hospital’s emergency department in the evening. His eyes were red.

Asked how his nose was hit, he gestured to say something. A man accompanying Azad said the doctor asked him not to speak.

The man said an attacker hit Azad in the head and nose with a heavy object after spraying the chemical into his eyes. He was suffering from blurred vision.

MILITANTS USED MOTORCYCLES: POLICE

Police took 12 accused in the case to the court and the militants tried to snatch four death-row convicts, according to an official at the police’s counterterrorism unit.

The two others were caught while trying to escape through Raghunath Das Lane. They are Arafat Rahman and Abdus Sabur, the official said.

Citing CCTV camera footage, he said the militants used motorcycles to flee. They left one motorcycle behind and the number plate led to Hasan Al Mamun of Faidabad. The militants also left an object that looked like a cutter knife.

The incident occurred in front of the Chief Judicial Magistrate’s Court, some 50 steps from the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court, where the hearing was supposed to take place.

An employee of a pharmacy in the neighbourhood said he saw a policeman in a bloodied state chasing seven to eight people. The policeman returned after some time.

Rabbul Islam, a lawyer, said he also saw several people running, but could not realise what was happening.

An employee of a restaurant said he saw some people running towards the road to Dholaikhal through Nasir Uddin Lane.

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Editor-in-Chief and Publisher