Fourteen people have disappeared in different parts of the capital in the past four months without a single ransom being demanded, though in some cases the kidnappers have shown an interest in the belongings of their abductees.
The methods used in the kidnappings have followed a similar pattern, suggesting that a certain quarter is abducting people as part of a sinister and hidden agenda.
It has left law enforcers, human rights activists and the family members of the victims seeking the answer to a single question: if not a ransom, what do the abductors want?
Eight of the recent abductees have been returned, but law enforcers have yet to track down the remaining six.
On December 4, former Bangladesh ambassador to Vietnam and Qatar, Maroof Zaman, went missing while on his way to pick up his daughter from the Dhaka international airport.
A day later, police tracked down Maroof’s car, which had been abandoned on the 300-Feet Road in Khilkhet.
According to a statement from Maroof’s family, three men visited the home of the retired Bangladesh Army captain following his disappearance, and took his computer and laptop.
On November 7, Dr Mubashar Hasan Cesar, a teacher of North South University’s School of Arts and Social Sciences, disappeared after leaving his home in the capital’s Dakhin Banasree. In the one month since he went missing, ransom demands are yet to be made.
Talking to the Bangla Tribune last Wednesday, the father of the victim, Motahar Hossain, said: “We did not receive any phone calls and no one has demanded a ransom for my son’s release. A month has passed without any news. We cannot do anything but wait.”
Khilgaon police station’s Officer-in-Charge (OC) Moshiur Rahman said serious efforts were being made to track down Dr Mubashar.
“A probe is ongoing to find a motive behind his abduction. We are also scrutinizing his personal affairs,” he said.
Around a month before Mubashar’s disappearance, journalist Utpal Das went missing from Dhaka on October 10. His family received a few calls for ransom money, but police dismissed these as “scams”.
Utpal’s Facebook ID and mobile phone were found to be active a few times, but the journalist has not been found yet.
Meanwhile, Managing Director of ABN Group, Syed Sadat Ahmed, was abducted from Airport Road near cantonment Police Station on August 22. Aside from an eminent businessman, Sadat is also a member of the BNP’s central executive committee.
The manager of ABN Group, Nazrul Islam, said Sadat was taken away in a microbus by seven to eight people who identified themselves as law enforcers.
On August 25, Ishrak Ahmed, 20, a student at McGill University of Canada, went missing from Dhaka’s Dhanmondi area. He was visiting Bangladesh on a holiday.
Ishrak’s father, Jamaluddin Ahmed, filed a general Diary with Dhanmondi Police Station. However, the youth’s family did not receive any demands for ransom.
MM Aminur Rahman, Secretary General of Kalyan Party, is another one in this ever increasing list of missing people. He disappeared while on his way home from his office in Naya Paltan at around 10pm on August 27.
Again, no one had contacted his family with ransom demands up to the filing of this report.
The apparent interest of abductors towards the belongings of the missing people was termed “highly suspicious” by Nur Khan, a human rights activist.
“Following the abduction of the former ambassador, his computer was taken from his home but criminals would have demanded money,” he said.
“A similar pattern has been noticed numerous times. Abductors have made a habit of taking their victims’ mobile phones and laptops. It feels like a certain quarter is looking for information about something.”
Noting that abductions are frequent in the 300-feet area, Nur Khan added that the incidents appear to be interconnected. “These abductions must be stopped before more people fall prey to these culprits,” he said.
The eight people who returned safely after going missing are IFIC Bank official Shamim Ahmed, Bangladesh Janata Party (BJP) President Mithun Chowdhury, the party’s central leader Asit Ghosh, Honorary Consul of Belarus Aniruddha Kumar Roy, former engineer of Nokia-Siemens Asaduzzaman Asad, Pharmacist of Sanofi-Aventis Jamal Rahman, fruit trader Giasuddin, and publisher Tanvir Yasin Karim.
This article was first published on Bangla Tribune