‘Pay the extortion money or become a victim of crossfire’

44 gunfights in Teknaf alone since Pradeep took office

A high-level probe team formed to investigate the murder of Major (Rtd) Sinha Mohammad Rashed Khan has visited Teknaf. They also visited the spot where the murder took place before returning to Chittagong.

However, no information has been released yet about their investigation, reports Bangla Tribune.

Meanwhile, upon hearing the news of the probe team’s arrival, some agitated locals crowded the area. They also brought various allegations against OC Pradeep and several other police officers of Teknaf police station who were his associates.

As the investigation team did not pay heed to them, the concerned locals went to the journalists with their complaints.

RAB has started the process of remanding three people including OC Pradeep, and interrogating four others at the jail gate.

Confirming the matter, RAB 15 Deputy Commander Major Mehedi Hasan said: “We have started to work following the procedure.”

However, no documents from the court regarding the remand of the accused in the Sinha murder case have yet reached the jail authorities, said Cox’s Bazar District Jail Superintendent Md Mokammel Hossain.

He said: “We are yet to receive any permission to release the accused for remand. Further action will be taken after we get the copy of the court order.”

Led by the Additional Divisional Commissioner of Chittagong Md Mizanur Rahman, the members of the high-level investigation team—formed by the Home Ministry—reached Teknaf police station around 2pm on Thursday after inspecting the spot. They left the police station at 5pm.

Teknaf Model police station Officer-in-Charge (OC) ABMS Doha said: “The investigation team saw the case evidence at the police station, and left after a three-hour meeting.”

However, Doha declined to comment on what was discussed there.

Teknaf Baharchhara union parishad Chairman Aziz Uddin said the probe team visited the spot where retired Major Sinha was murdered but they did not talk to anyone there at the time.

The victims, who had gathered in front of the police station to lodge their complaints against Teknaf police station OC and other police personnel, did not get a chance to speak to the team; they presented their allegations to the journalists instead.

Most of these allegations are related to extortion by picking up different people from their homes, and torturing them. Many of them were also threatened with crossfire if they refused to pay the extortion money.

44 gunfights in Teknaf alone since Pradeep took office

The locals made some serious allegations against OC Pradeep and his associate police officers. They claimed that the Teknaf police used to tag innocent people as yaba traders and terrorists, and pressured them for large sums of money. Those who could not pay were doomed to die a cruel death in the name of crossfire.

OC Pradeep joined Teknaf police station on October 19, 2018. Since then, there have been at least 44 gunfights in Teknaf alone in the last 19 months. And in these gunfights, 86 people were killed, while some claim the death toll is over 100.

In the last two years, 204 people have been killed in at least 144 gunfights in the Cox’s Bazar district.

Maqbool Ahmed of Sabrang in Teknaf said his brother Hasan Ahmad was picked up during the day by SI Sanjit Dutt. The police officer threatened to put him under crossfire and collected Tk5 lakh from them as a bribe to let him live.

Also Read – What happened to ex-major Sinha’s crew members?

Despite collecting the money, police tagged him as a yaba dealer and imprisoned him. The incident took place towards the end of December last year, he said.

Maqbool said he did not have the courage to speak up fearing OC Pradeep’s crossfire. “I came here upon hearing the news of his arrest. I demand justice, and I want to lodge a case against them,” he added.

Another victim Md Shahid Jewel, a Chhatra League member, said: “Police detained me from the Teknaf bamboo warehouse in the afternoon of February 1. They sent me to court showing that I was detained with 600 yaba tablets as I did not pay them the money they demanded.”

The murder and the consequent events

Retired Bangladesh Army Major Sinha Mohammad Rashed Khan was shot to death by police at a check post in Shamlapur area of Baharchhara union on Cox’s Bazar-Teknaf Marine Drive on July 31.

Cox’s Bazar police claimed that Rashed had ‘prevented a search’ using his identity. Police shot at him after he took out his pistol.

But the police’s claim was questioned from the very beginning. There were some discrepancies between what the police claimed, and the statement of an eyewitness and an acquaintance of the slain former army officer.

Under these circumstances, a high-level inquiry committee was formed to look into the matter.

Sinha’s sister Sharmin Shahria filed a case against nine police officials, including Teknaf police station OC Pradeep Kumar Das and Baharchhara police outpost in-charge Inspector Liakat Ali, with a Cox’s Bazar court on Wednesday morning.

Teknaf Police Officer-in-Charge (OC) Pradeep Kumar Das was withdrawn after the case was registered. ABM Doha, the second officer of the police station, was given the responsibility in his place. The case was registered at Teknaf police station on Wednesday night following a court order.

Meanwhile, Cox’s Bazar Senior Judicial Magistrate and the Teknaf Court Judge Md Helal Uddin denied bail to nine accused, including OC Pradeep, and ordered them to be sent to jail. He issued the order at 6:15pm on Thursday after a lengthy hearing.

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