This was exactly the timeframe the then home minister Sahara Khatun had announced to catch the killers of journalist couple, Sagar Sarowar and Meherun Runi, hours after the gruesome murders in 2012.
But nearly eight years went by, investigators could not make headway.
The Rapid Action Battalion and other agencies have taken 70 dates from the trial court to complete the investigation but failed to submit the probe report. All the investigators could do during every hearing was file a time petition.
This case is not an exception. The cases over three other much-talked-about killings — of Taqi, Tonu and Mitu — saw no visible progress in the investigation.
There are examples where sensational cases, like the one over the killing of Feni madrasa student Nusrat Jahan Rafi, were cracked in a short period of time. All the 16 accused were sentenced to death on October 24, 2019, just months after Nusrat was set on fire at a Feni madrasa.
But the slow pace of investigation in these four cases questions the integrity of the investigators, causing frustration in the victim families over getting justice.
“Justice will be served one day but perhaps I will not be able to see it in my lifetime,” said a frustrated Saleha Munir, mother of Sagar Sarowar yesterday.
The 68-year-old mother alleged that it was the unwillingness of the law enforcers which is prolonging the investigation.
“What Sahara Khatun had said was right; they might have identified the killers in 48 hours. Our law enforcement agencies have the capacity to unearth everything, but it is their unwillingness that is holding them back to crack this case,” she said.
She didn’t even know who is the current IO of the case.
“Many IOs have been changed but there was no result … It will never bring any result,” she said, sobbing.
Sagar, news editor at private TV channel Maasranga, and his wife Runi, a senior reporter at ATN Bangla, were killed in the early hours of February 11, 2012 at their rented flat in the capital’s West Rajabazar. The couple’s five-year-old child Mahir Sarowar Megh was at home at the time.
After investigation by Sher-e-Bangla Nagar police and the Detective Branch, the Rab started probing the murder on April 18, 2012.
Seven officers have investigated it so far.
The current investigation officer, Rab’s Additional Superintendent Khondker Shafiqul Alam could not give any specific date of submitting the probe report.
Even the High Court last month expressed disappointment as there is no significant progress in the the murder probe.
The court said the success of Rab, as an elite and all-rounder technology equipped force, in combating terrorism, drugs, illegal arms and food adulteration will be faded to some extent if it cannot find out and arrest the offenders behind the killing of Sagar-Runi.
At the hearing, Khondker Shafiqul Alam told the court that the results of DNA test are yet to come from the FBI laboratory in the US.
The High Court ordered the investigation officer to submit a report by March 4 this year on the latest position of its investigation.
Besides, a Dhaka court dealing with the case asked the Rab to submit the probe report by February 10.
Contacted yesterday, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said law enforcers are keen to solve every case, but some might be pending for further investigation.
“I cannot comment without knowing the details of these cases. For Sagar-Runi killing case, the High Court issued instructions and the Rab is following that. These cases might be still pending for the lack of proof and witnesses,” he said.
The minister also said there is no political pressure on the law enforcement agencies to investigate these cases.
No charge sheet has been filed even six years into the murder of Narayanganj teen Tanwir Muhammad Taqi.
“Investigation is going on” is what officials keep saying when journalists contact them.
A student of ABC International School, Taqi, 17, went missing after leaving his Shaista Khan Road home for Sudhijon Pathagar, a local library, around 4:00pm on March 6, 2013.
His A-level results were out the next day and he emerged as the highest scorer in the world in physics obtaining 297 out of 300 marks.
His body was found floating on the Shitalakhya river on March 8.
A draft of the investigation report was leaked before the first anniversary of the killing on March 6, 2014. Different newspapers ran stories based on the draft with quotes from top-ranking Rab officials about involvement of 11 people in the murder.
Col Ziaul Ahsan, the then additional director general of Rab, told the media at the time that they found evidence of Ajmeri Osman and his 10 associates in the brutal murder.
He also said the charge sheet would be submitted any day.
That day never came.
Prosecution lawyer Pradip Ghosh Babu told The Daily Star recently that they wrote to the court so that it orders the investigation officer to submit report as soon as possible. No report has come yet.
Talking to The Daily Star yesterday, Taqi’s father Rafiur Rabbi, who had been to countless demonstrations and public events to talk about his grievances, said it is not failure of the investigators but the political influence that has stalled the probe.
“The law enforcement agencies already unearthed who were the killers … they prepared the charge sheet within a year…When we saw the accused were family members of an influential political leader in Narayanganj, the investigation came to a halt,” Rabbi added.
Theatre activist Tonu was killed after being raped inside the Cumilla Cantonment on March 20 in 2016. No one has been arrested yet.
“It seems the murder is deliberately being covered up,” said Tonu’s mother Anwara Begum.
“It has been nearly two years since the investigation officer spoke to me. I have tried to contact him several times over the phone, but he didn’t answer,” she alleged.
The incident led to outrage across the country. Numerous rallies and protests were staged demanding punishment of the killers.
Two autopsies at the Cumilla Medical College could not determine the cause of her death though her father Yaar Hossain, who first spotted the body in a bush, saw that the back of his daughter’s head was smashed and there were injury marks on her nose.
The police inquest report did not cite any sign of injury. The report said most of her long hair was cut and her mouth and eyes were closed.
Investigators have so far taken 23 dates from the trial court
They claimed to have interrogated more than 200 people, including some army men, but to no avail. No arrest was made either.
On May 18, 2016, the CID revealed that the girl was indeed raped before being murdered. Following DNA tests, they also found spermatozoa of three males on Tonu’s clothes.
Talking to The Daily Star yesterday, Criminal Investigation Department ASP Jalal Uddin Ahmed said that they were waiting for the DNA profiling.
Asked why is the delay, the CID official said, “We sent the samples to the forensic DNA lab in Dhaka … it is the lab which kept us waiting. We can’t even question them.”
Tonu’s mother said the stress of their daughter’s murder has taken a toll on Tonu’s father, Yaar Hossain. He is not physically well.
“Our hope for getting justice is dimming as time passes,” she said.
Nearly three and a half years down the line after the murder of former SP Babul Akter’s wife Mahmuda Khanam Mitu, police could not yet complete the investigation.
Mitu, the wife of former superintendent of police (SP) Babul Akter, was murdered in broad day light in Chittagong city on June 05, 2016.
Kamrul Islam Musa alias Musa Sikdar, who was an informer of Babul, led the mission to stab and shoot her dead, according to police.
A year ago, police said they were at the final stage of submitting the report, but there is no update yet.
Additional Deputy Commissioner Md Kamruzzaman of Chattogram Metropolitan Police, who is investigating the case, told The Daily Star yesterday that he cannot give any specific date for the probe report submission.
“Investigation is going on,” the IO said without going into details.
Sc: The Daily Star