Police believe Shafaat Ahmed, the prime accused in the rape of two university students in Dhaka’s Banani in March, may have committed sexual violence before.
Investigators told a Dhaka court on Friday that Shafaat, son of Apan Jewellers owner Dildar Ahmed, may have sexually assaulted other women in various upscale hotels in the capital.
The court granted a six-day remand for Shafaat and a five-day remand for Shadman Sakif, his friend who is accused of coaxing the victims to come to the Raintree Hotel in Banani, the scene of the crime.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police’s Women Support and Investigation Division Inspector Ismat Ara Emi pleaded for 10-day remand for each accused while she informed the court that initial investigation suggested that Shafaat had raped many other women before.
ADC Asma Siddiqua Mili of the Women Support and Investigation Division said the background and nature of the suspect give reasons to suspect that they may have committed crimes against women before.
The remand prayer described how the two victims were raped by the accused at the Raintree Hotel and Restaurant on March 28.
Dhaka Metropolitan Magistrate Md Raihanul Islam granted the remand pleas, after rejecting the bail petitions of the two accused. When the two accused were produced before the court on Friday afternoon, they were seen crying at the witness stand as their lawyers tried to console them, court sources said.
DMP senior officials said their primary interrogation of Shafaat and Shadman, and the victims’ statements pointed to the authenticity of the allegations.
Shafaat and Shadman had been arrested from Sylhet city’s Madina Market area on Thursday night in a joint drive of a Police Headquarters special team, DMP Detective Branch, DMP’s Women Support and Investigation Division, Banani police and Sylhet Metropolitan Police.
Officials who were on the drive said the accused tried their best till the last moment to evade arrest, even going as far as to offer the police officials Tk10 crore bribe to let them go.
Police sources said in primary interrogation, Shafaat and Shadman said they along with Shafaat’s bodyguard Azad and driver Billal fled from Dhaka on May 5, staying at several places in Gazipur, Narsingdi and Sylhet. They kept their mobile phones switched off.
On Monday, Shafaat phoned his maternal uncle for a place to hide after they were rejected from a resort in Sylhet. In the meantime, Billal and Azad left them and fled. Shafaat’s uncle managed his London-expatriate friend’s house at Madina Market in the Sylhet city for his nephew to hide, from where the two were arrested. Both men appeared to have had a haircut.
After the arrest the fathers of the two accused refused to make any comment.
Sahely Ferdous, assistant inspector general (Media) of Police Headquarters, told the Dhaka Tribune that the headquarters special team had located the duo using technological tools.
On May 6, the two young women, both university students, lodged a rape case with Banani police against Shafaat Ahmed, his friends Nayeem Ashraf and Shadman Sakif, Shafaat’s driver Billal and his unnamed bodyguard.
After experiencing repeated threats from the accused, the two young women lodged complaints with Banani police on May 4. Police accepted the rape case 48 hours after the incident.
DMP Joint Commissioner (Crime) Krishna Pada Roy at a briefing on Friday said they had found evidence of Shafaat and Shadman’s involvement in the rape of the two women at a Banani hotel during primary investigation.
The two were brought to Dhaka on Friday morning and kept at DMP’s DB Office for initial interrogation. Krishna said the accused had claimed to police that the sexual encounter on March 28 night was consensual.
The victims gave statements before the investigators on Tuesday and issued judicial statements before a Dhaka court on Thursday saying they were raped by the accused and the rapists, being influential men, had repeatedly threatened them of consequences if they went to the authorities.
The Women Support and Investigation Division’s Victim Support and Investigation Centre is now investigating the case. A four-member team, led by the DMP’s joint commissioner (Crime) is also helping the IO.
Krishna said a separate three-member probe body, led by DMP’s additional commissioner (Crime), was formed to look into the delay in accepting the case and the allegation of harassing the victims.
The victims said police were sure of the identities and whereabouts of all the accused but delayed arresting them because of their influential families.
Nayeem is the managing director of eMakers Bangladesh and Shadman Sakif is one of the directors of Regnum Group. Dhaka Tribune found that the bodyguard’s name is Abul Kalam Azad. Driver Billal, bodyguard Azad and Shadman were accused of assisting Shafaat and Nayem during the rape.
Police are trying to arrest the other accused, Joint Commissioner Krishna said.
“No one is influencing our work. We are trying to conclude the investigation with fairness and by collecting all kinds of evidence.
“Police are looking at this from all aspects – forensic, forensic IT and medical - alongside the regular investigation,” he said.