People all over the country are waiting to see what punishment is meted out to the offenders. We want exemplary punishment of the accused in the quickest possible time
Retired army major Sinha Mohammad Rashed Khan, 36, was killed in police firing at Shamlapur police check post on Teknaf-Cox’s Bazar Marine Drive in Baharchhara union of Teknaf upazila in Cox’s Bazar around 9:30pm of 31 July.
Deposition of the first 15 witnesses was scheduled to be taken between 26 and 28 July.
The prosecutor said the deposition could not be taken due to suspension of regular proceedings of the court.
The case is under trial of Cox's Bazar district and sessions judge court.
Faridul Alam said there are 83 witnesses in Sinha murder case. The court ordered to start trial of this case after framing charges on 27 June 2020.
Sinha's elder sister Sharmin Shahria Ferdous filed a murder case with the Cox's Bazar court on 5 August, five days after the incident.
After the investigation on 13 December, elite force Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) submitted a charge sheet to the court against 15 people including suspended Teknaf police station officer-in-charge Pradeep Kumar Das and check post inspector Liaqat Ali on charges of shooting Sinha dead.
Of the accused, nine are members of police. Others are three members of armed police battalion (APBN) and three residents of Baharchhara village. Of the arrested accused, twelve have given confessional statement in the court. All accused including OC Pradeep are in Cox's Bazar jail.
According to the charge sheet of RAB, Sinha crossed Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) check post by car and reached the Shamlapur check post. The car halted when the APBN members signaled them to stop.
After hearing his identity, APBN members saluted Sinha and signaled for him to drive on. When Major Sinha's car started moving, police inspector Liaqat Ali appeared in front of the car and asked for Sinha's identity. As he gave his identity, Liaqat Ali became furious and blocked the road with barricade. At that time sub inspector Nandadulal Rakshit assisted him in blocking the road.
Standing in front of the car, Liaqat Ali aimed his pistol and abused Sinha, asking them get down with their hands up.
At first Shahedul got down from the car raising his hands. Then Sinha got down the car raising his hands. Sinha said calm down, calm down, in a bid to pacify Liaqat. Liaqat Ali then fired two rounds at Major Sinha and advancing a few steps, fired another two rounds. Sinha fell onto the road, according to the charge sheet.
OC Pradeep is not involved in Sinha murder. OC Pradeep just carried out the government policy of zero tolerance against drugs, the lawyer added
During firing, Liaqat Ali ordered Major Sinha and Sifat to be handcuffed. SI Nandadulal handcuffed Sinha. Sifat was bound with a rope as there were no other handcuffs. Afterwards, Liaqat Ali informed OC Pradeep and Cox's Bazar superintendent of police over phone about firing at Major Sinha. Receiving the phone call, OC Pradeep rushed to the spot with a white microbus and a pickup. Pradeep held a discussion with Liaqat in private. They left Sinha at the spot instead of taking him to the hospital.
OC Pradeep's lawyer Rana Dasdupta said OC Pradeep is not involved in Sinha murder. OC Pradeep just carried out the government policy of zero tolerance against drugs, the lawyer added.
The plaintiff's lawyer Mohammad Jahangir said it is possible to prove the allegations against the accused and dispose the case speedily as 12 out of 15 accused gave confessional statements in the court.
After the Sinha murder, the home ministry constituted a four-member investigation committee headed by then additional divisional commissioner (development) Mohammad Mizanur Rahman.
The committee observed the killing of Sinha was an act of the police’s rash, reckless and unprofessional attitude. The lack of supervision and accountability had made them insensitive to such shooting. According to the committee, the legal provision of self-defence was being misused. It made a 13-pint recommendation to stop this.
Sinha's family alleged Sinha was murdered as part of a plan of OC Pradeep and Liaqat Ali.
Speaking to Prothom Alo, Sinha's sister Sharmin Shahria Ferdous said 83 witnesses in the case are staying at different places. It may be difficult to bring the witnesses to the court timely as the coronavirus situation is worsening continuously.
She said depositions have to be taken quickly setting dates with little gap when the court resumes its regular proceedings so the case can be disposed speedily.
Sharmin Shahria Ferdous also said, "People all over the country are waiting to see what punishment is meted out to the offenders. We want exemplary punishment of the accused in the quickest possible time."
*This report, originally published in Prothom Alo print and online editions, has been rewritten in English by Rabiul Islam.