“I do not know what the current status of the investigation is,” he said in reply to a question by a reporter at a discussion in the Armed Police Battalion (APBn) headquarters in Dhaka.
Sagar, news editor at Maasranga TV, and Runi, senior reporter at ATN Bangla, were killed in their flat in Dhaka’s West Rajabazar area on February 11, 2012.
Kamal said he was hopeful that the killers of Sagar and Runi would be arrested soon.
Despite Kamal’s reassurance of justice, the country’s journalist community has little faith in his words as there has been no visible breakthrough in the murder investigation.
His predecessors, Sahara Khatun and Dr Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir, had also assured the nation that the culprits involved in the murder would be brought to book.
Sahara, who was the home minister at the time of the murder, promised that the killers would be arrested within 48 hours. But police were not able to do so.
Nine months later, when Mohiuddin took charge of the Ministry of Home Affairs, he claimed during a press conference that the investigators had a major breakthrough in the case.
But the details were not made public and there have been no reports of progress since then.
The Dhaka Tribune contacted Runi’s brother Nowsher Alam, who filed the murder case with Sher-e-Bangla Nagar police station, following Kamal’s comment.
“When the home minister says he is not aware of how the murder investigation is progressing, one can easily guess what is happening,” Nowsher said over phone. “It is unacceptable that a person who is in charge of the country’s internal affairs would say that.”
He further said he had contacted the high officials of RAB several times over the years, but they had never been able to provide any substantial information regarding the investigation.
RAB took over the investigation 62 days after the incident from the Detective Branch of police, who had received the case from Sher-e-Bangla police immediately after the case was filed.
On Wednesday this month, a Dhaka court instructed Assistant Superintendent of Police Mohiuddin Ahamed, the investigation officer of the case, to submit a progress report on March 21.
The court has fixed dozens of dates in the last five years asking RAB to submit the probe report, but the investigation officer always sought more time.
Mohiuddin could not be reached over phone on Thursday despite several attempts.
Meanwhile, RAB Media Wing Director Mufti Mahmud Khan said they had some leads, but declined to give details for the ongoing investigation.
’Culture of impunity is fuelling violence against journalists’
Besides Sagar and Runi, a number of cases where journalists have been harassed, assaulted or killed are unresolved till date, said several journalists and crime experts.
According to a 2016 report by US-based organisation Committee to Protect Journalists, at least 21 journalists have been killed in Bangladesh since 1996.
National human rights organisation Ain O Salish Kendra said some 117 journalists were assaulted or injured in 2016. But they did not mention any journalist being killed last year.
In the most recent case, Daily Samakal correspondent Abdul Hakim Shimul was shot dead by Shahzadpur Municipality Mayor Halimul Haque Miru in Sirajganj on February 3.
“Our culture of impunity lets criminals get away with anything,” said a reporter from a renowned newspaper, requesting not to be named. “So journalists are often victims of violence, making our jobs increasingly more dangerous.”
The government persecution of three editors – Daily Star Editor Mahfuz Anam, former Daily Jaijaidin editor Shafiq Rehman and Amar Desh Editor Mahmudur Rahman – did not help matters, he added.
Police brutality against journalists is a major issue as well.
On January 26, ATN News reporter Kazi Ihsan Bin Didar and camera person Abdul Alim were beaten up by police in Shahbagh, Dhaka for recording the video of police attack the protesters of Rampal coal-fired power plant.
National Press Club General Secretary Farida Yasmin, during a human chain event to protest Shimul murder, said the general attitude towards journalists is somewhat hostile.
“Both general people as well as the state authorities need to come forward to stop violence against journalists,” she added.