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8 years of Sagar-Runi murder: Justice still out of reach

  • Published at 10:24 pm February 10th, 2020
web-Sagar Sarwar  Meherun Runi
File photo of Sagar Sarwar and Meherun Runi Collected

No visible progress in investigation, submission of probe report deferred 71 times

Eight years ago, journalist couple Sagar and Runi were brutally murdered in their own home, in the presence of their only child. Law enforcement officials have yet to find out who killed them, and why. 

The Rapid Action Battalion, the agency in charge of the investigation, has not been able to confirm any substantial progress in its probe into the murders. The submission of the probe report before a court has been deferred 71 times. 

The last submission deadline was on Monday, which a Dhaka court rescheduled to March 23 as the investigators failed to submit the report yet again. 

Sagar Sarwar was the news editor of private TV channel Maasranga, while Meherun Runi was a senior reporter at ATN Bangla. The couple was murdered in their flat at Raja Bazar area in Dhaka on February 11, 2012. 

Mahir Sarwar Megh, the only son of the couple, was only five years old then and was in his room when his parents were killed in theirs.

The double murder sparked a nationwide outcry, particularly among journalists, who have been demanding justice for the slain couple since then. 

Top officials of the government as well as law enforcement agencies visited the couple’s residence, and their child Megh, and assured their families of speedy justice. Then home minister Sahara Khatun vowed to bring the killers to justice within 48 hours. 

The case was initially investigated by the Detective Branch (DB) of police, but was transferred to RAB on April 18, 2012 when the detectives admitted to their failure to unearth the motives behind the gruesome murder. 

But RAB has not made any visible headway into finding out the motive or the culprits either.   

So far, six RAB officials have investigated the case: Md Moinul Islam, Mohiuddin Ahmed, Md Jafar Ullah, Md Wares Ali Mia, Md Sohidar Rahman, and now ADC Khandaker Md Shafiqul Alam.

RAB officials say they are sincerely carrying out the investigation, and they have been submitting progress reports before Dhaka Chief Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court.

RAB has so far submitted eight progress reports on the investigation, but none of the reports indicated that they had unearthed any significant clues.

Till now, the investigators have interrogated 158 people, including 27 journalists, as well as recorded Megh’s statement.

They have also run tests on the DNA samples collected from the crime scene. The tests were conducted at a private laboratory in the US. 

When asked about the specifics on what they have found so far, the investigators have declined to answer as the investigation is still in progress. 

RAB has arrested three people as suspects in the murder case so far. Six other people, who were arrested as suspects in the murder of Dr Narayan Chandra Dutta Nitai, have also been shown arrested in Sagar-Runi murder. 

Dr Nitai, an assistant professor at the National Institute of Diseases of the Chest and Hospital (NIDCH), was stabbed to death at his residence in Dhaka on August 23, 2012 – six months after Sagar and Runi were killed. 

According to the law enforcement officials, the doctor was killed in a similar manner to the journalist couple. 

None of the suspects, including the six from Dr Nitai murder case, has confessed to their involvement in Sagar-Runi murder.

Has the investigation hit a slump? 

The last progress report that RAB submitted before the court was on March 15, 2017. Then RAB ASP Mohiuddin Ahmed was the investigation officer then. 

The families of Sagar and Runi are frustrated by the delay and now think the truth may have been covered up. 

“Our law enforcement agencies are wrapping up many sensational cases. Why can’t they make any progress in Sagar-Runi’s case?” asked Saleha Munir, Sagar’s mother. 

Speaking to Dhaka Tribune on Monday, she further said the investigation officer had not contacted the families or visited them in the last one year.

“At this point, they might as well let the suspects go,” said the upset mother. 

Dhaka Tribune could not reach the current investigation officer, ADC Khandaker Md Shafiqul Alam, for a comment on Monday, despite several attempts. 

Dhaka Reporters Unity (DRU) General Secretary Reaz Chowdhury, also frustrated, told Dhaka Tribune: “Eight years have passed since the murders, but the law enforcement officials have failed to identify the real killers.”

A protest will be held at the DRU premises at 10:30am on Tuesday, demanded justice for Sagar and Runi, he added.