Attack of UNO

Investigation moves away from ‘robbery’ motive

Ghoraghat UNO Wahida Khanam
Ghoraghat UNO Wahida Khanam
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Two days after the attack on UNO Wahida Khanam, the Rapid Action Battalion told a press conference that the motive behind the attack was probably robbery. They were quoting an arrested suspect.

Now, a week later, police investigations differ. According to sources, this was not a robbery. The attack on the UNO and her father was an act of vengeance. The prime suspect is a fourth class employee of the UNO office. Others may be involved along with him too.

Sources said that about four months ago, Tk 50,000 was stolen from Dinajpur’s Ghoraghat upazila nirbahi officer (UNO) Wahida Khanam’s bag. A fourth class employee was suspected of committing the theft and was interrogated. He denied the accusation. Later CCTV footage showed that he was the one who stole the money. Departmental action was taken against him and he was suspended.

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Eight months before this incident, this employee used to work as a household help in the deputy commissioner’s bungalow. As his performance was unsatisfactory, he was transferred to Ghoraghat upazila. One of his brothers works as a fourth class employees in an office of the district administration. The police have interrogated him too.

Police officials say that the person seen in the CC camera strongly resembles the suspected employee in appearance and movement. The police are looking into further evidence.

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CC camera footage

On the night of 2 September, the miscreants had entered the UNO’s residence through the bathroom window and attacked her and her father. The law enforcement agencies collected the CC camera footage and studied it.

One of the CC cameras was not working. The footage of the other three showed that before the attack, at around 1:00am on 2 September, the assailant had arrived outside the western wall of the house. He then entered the staff quarter lane alongside the wall of the house. He was carrying a long stick and a bag. Next he was seen inside the walled premises of the UNO’s house. It was then 1:18am. He walked around the premises for around 1 hour 45 minutes and peeked into the window on the western side of the house several times.

He then took a ladder from near the pigeon house on the southern side and carried it to the bathroom window on the western side. He wandered around for some time with the ladder, sometimes placing it near the bathroom window and sometimes moving it away. Then he brought a chair from eastern side of the house, but later put it back. He then turned off the light at the front of the house.

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When he was at the eastern side of the house, the CC camera showed he was wearing a red T-shirt, but where the light was poor, his clothes could not be clearly discerned. At 3:05 am he was seen on the premises of the house, but there is no footage after that. Investigators think he must have entered the house after 3:00 am.

At 4:40am, he was seen placing the ladder at the western boundary wall. Then he was seen walking down the staff quarter lane from where he had entered. He was still carrying a stick and a bag. He walked past the main gate of the residence and through the main gate of the upazila complex.

The Prothom Alo Dhaka office on Friday night called the Rangpur range DIG Debdas Bhattachraya to inquire about any new developments in the investigations. He refused to speak on the matter.

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Role of the night guard

The night guard of the UNO’s residence, Nazim Hasan (Palash), was seen in the morning at 6:10am in the footage. He was seen repeatedly looking below the western side of the bathroom window and then seen going to the front door. He was then seen going back to the pigeon house and removed the ladder from the boundary wall to lean it against the wall of the building. The investigating officials feel that the night guard Nazim Hasan was uneasy about the ladder and so he too is on the list of suspects.

The footage shows that after placing the ladder on the wall of the house, Nazim Hasan knocked on the front door. He then went up the stairs and then came down again. He looked very uneasy at the time, according to those involved in the investigation. He was walking up and down with his phone and then people started to arrive.

In the case regarding the attack on the UNO, it was said that at 6:30 am the night guard Nazim Hasan went upstairs upon hearing shouts from Omar Ali, UNO Wahida’s father. However, the door was locked and so he used the ladder to enter the house through the bathroom ventilator on the western side and began screaming when he saw the scene.

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OC withdrawn

On the tenth day since the attack, the Ghoraghat police station’s officer-in-charge (OC) Amirul Islam was withdrawn and attached to the Dinajpur police lines. Rangpur Kotwali thana OC Azimuddin was posted to Ghoraghat.

Dinajpur superintendent of police Md Anwar Hossain said, “Amirul Islam was withdrawn and ‘closed’ at the Dinajpur police lines for negligence of duty.”

Two in lock-up after remand

Meanwhile, the two building painters, Nabirul Islam and Santu Kumar Biswas, who were arrested on suspicion at the beginning, had been taken on seven-day remand by the police. Their remand ended on Friday and in the afternoon they were handed over to the court. The police have not appealed for further remand. The court has sent them to jail lock-up.

Also arrested on suspicion with those two was local Jubo League leader Asadul Islam. His police remand will end on Saturday. Investigating officers said they could not draw any conclusion to the case from the information gathered from these three.

After detaining these three, a press conference was held on 4 September at the RAB office in Rangpur. RAB said that Asadul Islam had admitted involvement in the attack on the UNO. He had told them that the attack was carried out simply as part of a robbery attempt. A few other local people were detained and questioned. At least 30 persons from various levels of the upazila administration have been questioned so far.

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Wahida can move her fingers

In the meantime, UNO Wahida Rahman, under treatment at the National Institute of Neurosciences and Hospital in Dhaka, is managing to move the fingers of her right hand. Head of the medical board formed for her treatment, Professor Md Zahid Hossain, yesterday told Prothom Alo Wahida Khanam’s right side is numb but it is a positive sign that she is moving the fingers on her right hand. With physiotherapy she may be able to move normally. She is now able to eat.

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