The law enforcers yesterday finally confirmed that they were interrogating Hasnat Karim and Tahmid Hasib Khan in connection with the July 1 Gulshan terror attack.
“We have to conduct the investigation through interrogation of witnesses, rescuers and others concerned. The puzzle cannot be solved without interrogation,” DMP Commissioner Asaduzzaman Miah told reporters.
In response to queries, the DMP boss refused to give details of the whereabouts of the duo. Their families and several international human rights groups have been campaigning for their release.
“They are neither arrested nor detained, but being interrogated,” he said, suggesting the media persons to contact with the investigation officer for details about the duo.
The DMP’s Counterterrorism and Transnational Crimes unit is conducting the investigation of the case.
At least 20 people including 17 foreigners were killed in the attack launched by militants on Holey Artisan Bakery and O’ Kitchen building in posh Gulshan area. Two police officials were also killed during the hostage situation that erupted as the attackers had failed to flee the scene after killing most of the guests at the Spanish restaurant.
Five attackers were killed in the rescue mission dubbed Operation Thunderbolt the next morning. A pizza chef was reportedly mistakenly killed at that time. Another assistant chef of the restaurant, held as a suspect, succumbed to his injuries while undergoing treatment at a hospital under police custody. Some 32 people were rescued from the site or released by the militants.
UK citizen Hasnat, a former teacher of North South University, and Canada resident Tahmid, a student of the University of Toronto, were released by the militants just before the operation. They were later taken to the DB office for interrogation, apparently due to their dubious role during the hostage crisis.
Although a DMP deputy Commissioner earlier claimed that they had released the duo before Eid, their family members alleged that they had not returned home.
The law enforcers have claimed that the members of banned militant outfits Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh, Ansarullah Bangla Team and Hizb ut-Tahrir carried out the attack jointly.
Rights bodies ask for whereabouts
Last week, London-based rights group Amnesty International demanded that the Bangladesh government immediately ensure that he has access to his family, a lawyer and to any medical attention he may require.
Amnesty also said that Hasnat should be released unless he is charged with an internationally recognisable criminal offence and presented before a court.
Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch has echoed Amnesty to urge the government to protect the rights of Hasnat and Tahmid.
In a statement issued Friday, the New York-based group called on the authorities to admit their detentions and to make clear the whereabouts.
The group urged investigators to conduct thorough investigations in a rights-respecting manner.
HRW also said the authorities needed to either charge or release them immediately. It claimed the length of time the two men had been held incommunicado was a direct violation of their basic rights.
The rights group also called upon both the UK and Canadian authorities to press for consular access to ensure their safety and well-being.