On October 11, Rayhan Ahmed was beaten to death at the Bandar Bazar police outpost
The suspended police officer accused of the custodial death of a man in Sylhet has been arrested four weeks after the killing.
Sub-Inspector (SI) Akbar Hossain Bhuiyan was apprehended on Monday at the Dona border in the northeastern district’s Kanaighat upazila, say police.
Thirty-four-year-old Rayhan, who lived in the city’s Akharia neighbourhood, was beaten to death on October 11 at the Bandar Bazar police outpost, according to a case filed by the family. SI Akbar was in charge of the outpost at the time.
“He was arrested at around 9am by a police team in plainclothes,” Sylhet’s Superintendent of Police (SP) Md Fariduudin told the media at his office later in the day.
Later in the day at around 7:30pm, Sylhet Range Police handed over Akbar to the Police Bureau of Investigation (PBI), who are now investigating the case. He was then taken to PBI's office in a van.
According to SP Fariduudin , some “trusted contacts” in the bordering area had helped them with the arrest.
He claimed that a police team was deployed at the border late on Sunday based on “intel that Akbar may flee to India”.
He, however, said it was not clear whether Akbar was attempting to cross the border or had fled to India. “It’s being investigated.”
But reports received earlier, including from a senior border guard officer, indicated that Akbar was detained by members of the Khasia community in India before being sent back to Bangladesh.
The chief of the Sylhet-based Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) battalion confirmed Akbar’s arrest to Dhaka Tribune earlier in the day.
Lt Col Md Rafiqul Islam, commanding officer of BGB Battalion 19, told Dhaka Tribune Akbar was nabbed in India’s Shilchar and was handed over to a Bangladeshi man before he was arrested by police in the border area.
A local source also confirmed that Akbar was detained by the Khasia people late on Sunday in the Dona slum area in Shilchar, just across the border from Sylhet’s Kanaighat Upazila.
“The Khasias handed over Akbar to the cattle traders, after which he was kept in the custody of a local resident Rahim. He was kept at the Dona camp until Monday noon, when he was transported to Kanaighat police station,” the source said.
Meanwhile, Rayhan's wife Tahmina Akhter Tanni, and his mother Salma Begum have expressed their satisfaction over Akbar's arrest. They said that they are happy regarding the latest development and demanded swift justice for Rayhan.
‘Went into hiding on a senior officer’s advice’
Meanwhile, several videos of Akbar being held emerged on social media on Monday.
In one of the videos, Akbar was seen telling the people who detained him that he had crossed over the border upon advice from a superior officer.
“A senior officer told me, ‘Go into hiding for the time being as you have been suspended. The situation can be handled when things calm down after two months,” he was heard saying.
In another video, Akbar was seen being detained and tied up by Khasia people, with several Bangla speaking individuals present as well.
The suspended police officer was seen pleading with locals not to beat him or tie him up. He also claimed that he had not killed Rayhan.
Asked how he had entered India, the suspended police officer said he crossed the border at Majhergaon Bholaganj in Sylhet’s Companyganj upazila.
“A family in India told me to go over there for a few days,” said Akbar.
Dhaka Tribune could not verify the authenticity of the videos, which have gone viral on social media.
Demonstrations in front of Sylhet SP offices
After news of SI Akbar’s arrest broke on Monday noon, locals started to gather in front of the SP’s office and the Bandarbazar police outpost near it. The number of people grew as the day passed and demonstrations got underway, with the crowd raising slogans seeking justice for Rayhan.
The demonstrators started to agitate when Akbar was brought to the SP’s offices in the evening. At one point, SP Fariduddin had to mollify the demonstrators in an effort to avoid any untoward situation.
“We have managed to apprehend Akbar. He will be handed over to the PBI, the Police Bureau of Investigation, which is in charge of the probe, tonight. The PBI will initiate legal measures against him,” the district police chief told the protestors.
Rayhan was allegedly beaten to death on the night of October 11 in police custody at the Bandar Bazar police outpost.
However, police maintain that he was caught by locals while mugging, and was lynched.
Police claim they had found Rayhan wounded from the mob lynching and had then taken him to a hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries.
On October 12, Rayhan's wife Tahmina Akhter Tanni filed a case under the Torture and Custodial Death (Prevention) Act 2013 with Sylhet Kotwali police station.
The case has since been transferred to PBI following the family's demand.
A forensic medical board of Sylhet MAG Osmani Medical College and Hospital, in its second autopsy report, said Rayhan had died due to injuries he sustained from a blunt weapon.
In the first autopsy report, the doctors found 111 injury marks on Rayhan's body. Of them, 14 were serious injuries.
According to the autopsy report, two of Rayhan's fingernails had been removed. Such torture was carried out on him for two to four hours before his death. The medical board found similarities between the first autopsy report and the second one.
After the incident, the outpost's five police personnel, including its in-charge Akbar, were suspended and three others were withdrawn.
The four others are sub-inspector Hasan Uddin, assistant sub-inspector Touhid Miya and constables Titu Chandra Das and Harunur Rashid.
Hasan was suspended as he had helped Akbar escape and is accused of concealing information.
Titu, Harunur and Ashek Elahi (withdrawn) were remanded in connection with the murder.