Xulhaz-Tonoy murder probe still centred around suspicion

Police are yet to make any headway in the investigation into the murders of Xulhaz Mannan and Mahbub Rabbi Tonoy even after a week into the killings.

Staff Correspondentbdnews24.com
Published : 3 May 2016, 03:08 PM
Updated : 3 May 2016, 06:27 PM

Amidst criticism over lack of progress in the investigation into recent murders, IGP AKM Shahidul Hoque at a press conference on Tuesday could only underscore their suspicion about the assailants.

He said from the modus operandi and the way a certain outfit claimed responsibility for the killings like in the previous incidents, it appeared that outlawed Ansarullah Bangla Team was involved in the twin murders.

Though statements were issued in the name of IS and al-Qaeda, claiming responsibility for some of the recent killings in Bangladesh, police refuse to subscribe to those claims.

Machete-wielding assailants killed Gay rights activist Xulhaz Mannan inside his Dhaka apartment along with his theatre activist friend Mahbub Rabbi Tonoy.

When asked on what basis they were claiming that there was no IS presence in Bangladesh, the police chief told bdnews24.com that none of the arrestees claimed to have any link with the IS.

“Moreover, none of the arrestees is a high-profile criminal to have international connection,” he added.

To refute the allegations of police failure in bringing the perpetrators of these killings to justice, Hoque came to the press conference with a report of how in 34 out of the 37 killings, police could unearth the motive.

“To those who blame police let me tell them that out of 37 incidents, we have succeeded in unearthing the motives in 34 cases. There is no police failure, this is what I want to tell,” he said.

He further stated that despite such successes, police’s good work was seldom highlighted.

“I can vouch that Bangladesh Police is regarded as a role model in tackling terrorism. We are better than even many powerful countries,” he claimed.

Several bloggers, online activists and a publisher have been hacked to death since the murder of writer-blogger Avijit Roy in February last year. Two foreigners, a minority Hindu priest and a Hindu tailor have also been murdered while Shias, Ahmadiyyas and liberal Sunnis, too, have come under attack.

LGBT rights activist Mannan and his theatre activist friend?? were hacked to death in former’s flat in Dhaka on Apr 25, two days after the murder of Rajshahi University professor and cultural activist Prof AFM Rezaul Karim Siddiquee.

Police got ‘clear’ images of some of the murderers of Xulhaz and Tonoy from CCTV camera footage but no-one has been identified or arrested.

The IGP claimed Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) was involved in the Apr 30 murder of the Hindu tailor in Tangail and also in the killing of Prof Siddiquee.

6 chargesheets, 144 arrests

IGP Hoque provided information on cases related to 37 militant attacks since 2013.

According to him, chargesheets have been submitted in six of the cases and 144 persons arrested. Of them, 49 had given confessional statements in court, he said.

Defending the ‘fewer’ chargesheets in 37 cases, he said, "Many details need to be looked into to prepare the chargesheet. So it needs time."

According to him, 25 of these attacks have been carried out by the JMB, eight by Anasarullah Bangla Team while other militant or terrorist outfits perpetrated the remaining four attacks.

The IGP also said police have found involvement of Jamaat-e-Islami and its student wing Islami Chhatra Shibir in some of the incidents.

According to him, 15 pistols, an SMG, an AK-22 rifle, 91 grenades, 16 bombs, ammunition, machetes, laptops and motorcycles have been seized from the arrested militants.

A ‘global’ problem

Dwelling on the ‘complications’ in tackling militancy, IGP Hoque said it was a ‘global’ problem.

“The problem is not limited to Bangladesh alone.”

“I think militancy cannot start without mental sickness. The militants get motivated through the social media and many other means.

“They also give motivational lectures among themselves. This way they are increasing their number.”

Hoque said militant activities had been noticed in Bangladesh since 2000.

He said the Aug 21, 2004 grenade attack on an Awami League rally was carried out by militants, but masterminded by a certain group.

The IGP sought the help of Islamic scholars to help raise awareness in an attempt to curb militancy.