Motives behind the killing of Zahidul Islam alias Tipu, former general secretary of the Awami League’s Moitijheel unit, have been mostly unraveled, several sources involved in the investigation have claimed.
According to them, there were three main motives behind this killing. They are – taking control of the underworld, disputes with the local Awami League leaders and personal grudges.
Several law enforcement agencies are conducting drives to arrest all the people involved in the killing.
Already the detective branch (DB) of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) has arrested a suspect, Masum Mohammmad alias Akash, who was directly involved in the assassination.
According to DB, it was Masum who shot Zahidul. He was hired for this.
Asked who hired him, Rifat Rahman Shamim, deputy commissioner of the DB's Motijheel Division, said, “Masum has revealed some names in this regard which cannot be disclosed right now for the sake of the investigation.”
Zahidul was shot dead on a busy street in the capital's Amtala mosque area in Shahjahanpur at around 10.00pm on Thursday. He was returning home. A youth wearing a helmet shot at Zahidul randomly when his vehicle stopped at a traffic signal. A college student named Samia Afran Jamal, who was on a rickshaw near Zahidul’s car at the time, was also shot dead.
The Zahidul murder case is now being investigated by DB.
Speaking to several officials affiliated with the investigation it was learned that the masterminds behind the killing used the anger of the accused in the Rizvi Hasan alias ‘Boncha Babu’ murder case.
Boncha Babu was shot dead in the AGB Colony in Motijheel area on 16 September 2016. Deceased Babu’s father Abul Kalam was very close to Zahidul Islam. Zahidul would always help financially unstable Kalam. They used to be together all the time. Even, Kalam was in Zahidul’s car when he was shot to death.
Zahidul also bore all the expenses of the case filed over the killing of Boncha Babu. Therefore, the accused were angry with Zahidul. Among the main accused in Boncha Babu murder case are Omar Faruque alias Kana Faruque, general secretary of ward no.10 Awami League, his accomplices – Nasir Uddin and Sumon Sikder.
After being released on bail, the accused in the case, including Kana Faruque, contacted Zahidul to reach a consensus with the plaintiffs to settle the case. But they became angry with Zahidul as he refused to do that.
Meanwhile, Omar Faruque alias ‘Kana Faruque’ tried to grab the post of president of Awami League’s Motijheel unit. He even lobbied through a prominent Awami League leader for this.
Kana Faruque thinks that he will not be able to be the president of the Motijheel unit due to this case and the case couldn’t be settled as Zahidul didn’t want him to be the president.
Musa was once a ‘professional killer’ of the notorious Prakash-Bikash gang. Later, he also worked for top terror Jafar Ahmed alias ‘Manik’ alias ‘Freedom Manik’. After being imprisoned, Musa and Faruque become closer.
Sources close to the investigation said Musa and Nasir were first motivated to kill Zahidul. The law enforcement agencies have found that these have played a role behind the assassination. The Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and police are looking for them.
On the other hand, when former Jubo League leader Ismail Hossain Samrat and Khaled Mahmud Bhuiyan used to control the underworld of Motijheel, Shahjahanpur and Khilgaon area, collected extortions from footpath, and control the tenders the kitchen market in front of AGB Colony, Krira Parishad and various government organisations including Bangladesh Railway, three fugitive top terrors - Manik, Jisan and Prakash-Bikash group also got a portion of the income from these sources.
Zahidul Islam took the control of all the tenders of Motijheel area, Krira Parishad and the railway. The commissions for those three top terrors also stopped after that. The most cornered of these is the Manik's gang. Another listed terrorist named Kala Palash was coordinating the criminal activities in the area on behalf of the fugitive Manik.
A source close to the investigation has said that Kayla Palash was involved in plotting the assassination, hiring the killer and supplying arms.
According to the source, after killing Jahidul, Kayla Palash talked to Manik over the mobile phone for about half an hour. They talked for over two hours in phases after that.
After plotting the assassination, another accused of Boncha Babu murder case named Nasir Uddin started to follow Zahidul. He updated Musa about Jahidul's whereabouts on the day of the incident from time to time. One of the reasons for Bocha Babu's murder was Babu's dispute with Nasir over the business of sacrificial animal skins.
The law enforcement agencies are now looking for Kana Faruque, Kaila Palash, Nasir and Musa. And they have made advancement in this regard, says a relevant official seeking anonymity.
The shooter was hired five days ago
DB said the plotters of the assassination hired ‘shooter’ Masum five days prior to the day of the incident. AKM Hafiz Akter, additional commissioner of DB police, said this during a press conference at the DMP’s media centre on Sunday after detaining Masum.
He said three days before the incident an unacquainted person handed Masum and his accomplice a motorcycle and a gun.
The additional commissioner further said even a day before the incident Masum and his assistant went to AGB colony with the intention to kill Zahidul. However, they returned as they couldn’t find him at a convenient place to kill. A day later, they killed Zahidul after finding him at a convenient place in the Amtala area in the capital’s Shahjahanpur.
He said Masum went to Joypurhat in a car from Dhaka. He wanted to go to India but ended up in Bagura as he couldn’t cross the border. However, the weapon and the motorcycle used in the killing are yet to recover.
The police are trying to recover these, said the additional commissioner of DB. At the same time, efforts are on to detain Masum’s accomplice.
DB police said Masum is accused in four to five murder cases, including the one filed over the killing of Sharif in Mugda-Goran area.
During the primary interrogation Masum told DB that he got involved in this assassination only for money. After completing his study in graphics arts, he started a cable TV business. He has children and wife in the family. He is from Chandpur.
* This report appeared in the print and online edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten for the English edition by Ashish Basu