Police on Tuesday finally went to the house of Shafaat Ahmed to find that he and his passport were missing, six days after a rape case was filed against him with Banani police.
Their long extended wait before going to arrest the three main accused, Shafaat Ahmed, 26, Nayeem Ashraf, 30, Shadman Sakif, 24, in the banani rape case filed on May 6 has perhaps allowed the men to run and hide.
On Monday Shafaat and three other men – presumably Nayeem, Shadman and driver Billal – were spotted at the Regent Park Resort in Thakurbari Thillapara in Sylhet.
They were denied a room at the resort that they tried to rent for Tk20,000 as they had no forms of identification on them and were not carrying any overnight bags.
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From left: Shafat Ahmed, Shadman Sakif, Nayeem Ashraf, all three stand accused of raping two university students after luring them to a hotel in Banani on March 28. 2017 Collected
They quickly left the resort when the on-duty officials at the resort recongnised them, said the hotel manager.
Regent Park Resort’s Restaurant Manager Mobarak Hossain, who spoke to Shafaat, said: “Since the resort has yet to launch, rooms are booked through the restaurant. They left when I asked them to provide IDs.”
“After Shafaat and his friends left we were informed that they were accused fugitives,” said Regent Park Resort’s Restaurant In-charge Helal Ahmed.
Police later conducted a drive at Shafaat’s village home in Raygor under Dhaka Dakkhin union of Golapganj upazila as well as his mother’s village home in Boroikandi in Dakkhin Surma upazila but were unable to locate him.
When police went to Shafaat’s home in Gulshan on Tuesday his father Dildar Ahmed – owner of Apan Jewelers – also could not produce Shafaat’s passport.
On May 6, two young women filed a case with Banani police against Shafaat Ahmed, Nayeem Ashraf, Shadman Sakif, and Billal and Shafaat’s bodyguard for allegedly raping and videotaping them on March 28 at the Raintree Dhaka Hotel in Banani after a birthday party.
Dhaka Tribune found the bodyguard’s name to be Azad through the caretaker of Shafaat’s home but police would not confirm it.
Nayeem is the managing director of eMakers Bangladesh, an event management company, and Shadman Sakif is a director of Regnum Group.
The men allegedly invited the young women to a birthday party at the Raintree where they raped the women at gunpoint while Shafaat’s driver Billal videotaped the whole incident. The men later used the footage to blackmail the women.
Amid allegations of police inaction over arresting the alleged rapists as they belong to influencial families, the case was transferred to Dhaka Metropolitan Women Support & Investigation Division on Tuesday as directed by the DMP commissioner, confirmed DMP Assistant Deputy Commissioner (Media) MD Yosuf Ali.
The two plaintiffs of the case were also taken to the Victim Support Centre on their request on Tuesday, said Deputy Commissioner of the centre Farida Yasmin.
The two young women on Sunday told the Dhaka Tribune that they were afraid for their safety because their alleged rapists had repeatedly threatened them over the phone and told them to withdraw the case.
They had initially tried to file a case on Thursday but the police only wrote down a complaint which was finally made into a case on Saturday.
When the Dhaka Tribune asked Banani police station Inspector (Investigation) Abdul Matin about the allegations that police had not made arrests because they had accepted bribes, Matin said police rules and regulations prevent him from speaking to the media and promptly hung up the phone.
Speaking to the Dhaka Tribune Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal on Tuesday said no money or power can influence the law enforcement agencies in Bangladesh.
“No external forces are at work to hinder the law enforcement agencies.
“We have arrested many notorious criminals, even militants. Likewise, we will also arrest the accused in the rape case. Keep patience. Nobody gets away after committing a crime,” he said.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police Additional Deputy Commissioner (Gulshan Zone) Abdul Ahad told the Dhaka Tribune: “It is not true that we were negligent in taking the case seriously. We have been working on it since May 6.”
However Banani police’s Inspector (Investigation) Abdul Matin explained the delay in taking action by saying: “Shafaat’s father misguided us by giving us false information about his location.”
On Monday the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) formed a probe committee which includes three NHRC members, a director and an assistant director of the rights watchdog.
The police delayed in taking necessary actions against the perpetrators; they should be pro-active in arresting the accused,” NHRC Chief Kazi Reazul Hoque told the Dhaka Tribune. “Since that did not happen, we have been compelled to form the high profile probe committee.” Their report will be given on May 25.