Two local level leaders of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, who allegedly disappeared on Wednesday night, were found dead at two places outside Dhaka on Thursday.
In a span of three days, 12 people, who reportedly disappeared, were found dead in different places across the country causing grave concern among citizens, human rights activists and political parties over growing incidents of clandestine killings.
Nazmul Islam, 40, treasurer of Jessore district BNP, who was picked up allegedly by men in plain clothes from Mohammadpur in Dhaka on Wednesday night, was found dead at Dakhkhin Salna in Gazipur on Dhaka-Mymensingh highway on Thursday morning.
Nazmul was also the Jhikargachha upazila unit president of BNP.
The police recovered the body after being informed by locals and sent it to Gazipur sadar hospital morgue for postmortem examination.
Family told New Age that at about 11:00pm on
.Wednesday, Nazmul was returning to his Dhanmondi residence in Dhaka in his Alien car (Dhaka Metro-Ga-21-2746) after attending a wedding ceremony at Mirpur section.
Besides, an elderly union level leader of BNP was killed by slitting his throat after calling him out of his house over cell phone at Charkakra of Noakhali district on Wednesday night. The deceased, Abdul Wahab, locally known as Wahab Raja, was the vice-president of Charkakra union unit of BNP.
Relatives of Abdul Wahab said he had disappeared Wednesday night. Companiganj police recovered his body in a garden at Charkakra on Thursday morning.
Home minister Sahara Khatun on Wednesday said that she had read reports of such ‘secret killings’ in newspapers and directed the law enforcement agencies to investigate them.
‘I have come to know about the incidents in newspapers. I do not have any information beyond that. Please let me know if you have any,’ Sahara told reporters.
In another incident in Rajshahi, police recovered two bodies from a field at Jagirpara village under Puthia upazila.
The identity of one of the three bodies, which were found floating in Dhaleswari river on Tuesday, was known on Thursday. The deceased was Monju Mia, 35, son of Rasid Munshi of village Baralaksmi under Salta upazila in Faridpur. He used to reside at Sanarpar under Siddirganj thana of Narayanganj.
On December 8, bodies of three more people, including that of a Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal activist, were found floating in the same river.
The JCD leader, Al-Amin Ismail, was picked up along with a friend allegedly by plainclothesmen from Hatirpool area in the capital on November 28.
Ismail, president of the Dhaka city ward 50 unit Chhatra Dal, was identified by his family on Friday.
Ismail’s family said that he was picked up along with his friend Shamim Hasan, information and research secretary of the Dhaka University Surya Sen Hall unit of Chhatra Dal, by RAB in plain clothes in a ‘white microbus’ near Motaleb Plaza on November 28.
According to rights group Odhikar, the number of victims of enforced disappearance was 17 in 2010 while the figure was 22, including 11 in the capital, for the first 10 months of 2011.
In most of the cases, families of the victims alleged that law enforcement agencies had killed their relatives in a planned way that they said might be an alternative to ‘crossfire’ and ‘encounter’.
The National Human Rights Commission chairman, Mizanur Rahman, expressed his concerns about an increase in the number of such enforced disappearances.
He told New Age on December 8 that the law enforcers must investigate every incident of disappearance to steer clear of the allegations.
Human rights defenders also expressed grave concerns about growing incidents of enforced disappearance.
Odhikar’s secretary Adilur Rahman Khan demanded that the government should launch vigorous drives to rescue such victims of disappearance and also take action against the people involved in the crimes.
Rights watchdog Ain o Salish Kendra executive director Sultana Kamal told New Age, ‘These are not stray incidents and it is the responsibility of law enforcers to look into the issue seriously.’
The rise in the incidents of enforced disappearance has also caused concern among international rights groups.
The Asian Federation against Involuntary Disappearances has urged the government to take immediate steps to stop enforced disappearances of people allegedly after being picked up by law enforcers.
The Rapid Action Battalion’s media and legal wing director, M Sohail, however, denied the battalion was involved in any such abduction and said they had rather rescued several people from abductors in last few months.
On September 29, former vice-president of Bangladesh Chhatra Union KM Shamim Akhter, 37, was abducted by some unknown people from near his house at Purana Paltan in the capital, his 60-year-old mother, Johara Akhter, alleged.
Dhaka city ward councillor Chowdhury Alam, also a BNP leader, went missing on June 25, 2010.