Former inspector of Banani police station Sheikh Sohail Rana could not be brought back to the country even after 15 months of his arrest in India. The police were active about extraditing him from India in the beginning. The police headquarters had exchanged letters with the relevant agency in India up until May last year.
However, all the proceedings are stalled at the moment. Even the officials involved in the investigation could not say anything regarding this.
Sohail fled to India after the fraudulent activities of e-commerce firm e-orange came to light. He was arrested by members of Indian Border Security Force (BSF) on 3 September 2021 in Cooch Behar of West Bengal. He is now in prison in Cooch Behar district.
Before that, Sohail Rana was temporarily suspended for his involvement in the scam. There are allegations that he used to run the e-commerce firm named ‘e-orange’ from behind the scenes.
The National Central Bureau (NCB) of the police is in charge of maintaining contact with other countries, extraditing the criminals from abroad and coordinating with international agencies.
Speaking regarding bringing Sohail back to the country, Sharif Mostafizur, assistant inspector general of the NCB, told Prothom Alo on 27 December that he didn’t know anything about this and was busy with the programmes of the Police Week. He would inquire about the matter after the police week.
The initiative to extradite stalled
The NCB of the Police Headquarters sent letters to the NCB of India eight times till May last year. India too had responded to these letters twice. They informed that the trial of the case against Sohail for trespassing is underway. They didn’t provide any further information on him.
The then inspector general of the NCB, Mahidul Islam has been promoted to the post of additional deputy inspector general (DIG, training) of the police headquarters.
When contacted, he told Prothom Alo that he had been transferred to the Police Headquarters three months ago. He was in touch with the NCB of India to extradite Sohail from India when in charge of the NCB. However, he could not provide this correspondent with any information regarding the current situation.
Speaking to the newspersons on 6 September, the then inspector general of police (IGP) Benazir Ahmed said, “Sohail Rana will be brought back to the country. We have already held unofficial talks with India and soon will hold an official meeting with India in this regard. It won’t be much of a problem to bring him back as we have an extradition agreement with India.”
On that very same day, the then commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) Shafiqul Islam reiterated the IGP. He said, “It is possible to bring Sohail back by sending a letter to the BSF through the home ministry. We did it several times in the past. If it is not possible to bring him back through this means, then efforts will be made to bring him back through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”
The law experts say it will not be difficult to extradite Sohail as he has been accused in a criminal case in the country. Trespassing is considered a crime in the law of both countries. There are opportunities to bring him back through a prisoner exchange agreement negotiated at the highest levels of the government.
Properties owned by Sohail Rana
According to the police, Sohail Rana has one flat in Shahjadpur of the capital, one in Gulshan Model Town, two in Niketan and one in E-Block of Bashundhara residential area. He also had bought a space in a commercial building at a cost of Tk 90 million in Gulshan.
Apart from this, police have found two plots in Bashundhara and Purbachal and three business establishments in Gulshan and Uttara under his possession. He also bought lands in his district Gopalganj and Khagrachari.
The police at the time said that they will investigate the properties achieved by Sohail Rana. However, they didn’t do that.
Outside the country, Sohail Rana owns a super-shop, a piece of land and a flat in Pattaya of Thailand, a super-shop, bars and restaurants in Lisbon, Portugal, bars in Manila, Philippines and a bar and casino in Kathmandu, according to several relevant sources.
Some of the police officials believe that Sohail Rana was trying to escape to Nepal via India. Six years ago, Sohail Rana was promoted to police inspector. Before this, he had served as the sub-inspector in the diplomatic zone under the Gulshan and Badda police stations from 2010 to 2015. At the time, he got in touch with the officials of various embassies. The police also got information that Sohail also had sent people to different countries.
After Gulshan, Sohail Rana served in the special branch (SB) of the police from 2015 to 2017. Although he got promoted to inspector later, he was in the SB till 20 January 2020. After that, he served in the Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit of the police for four months. On 28 May 2020 he became a police inspector at the Banani police station. He was in that post before leaving the country.
Cases against ‘e-orange’
‘e-orange’ is one of the e-commerce firms that was sued on the allegation of embezzling money. On 18 August 2021, a case was filed with Gulshan police station against ‘e-orange’ for embezzling Tk 11 billion. The name of Sohel came to the fore following the case.
A total of 9 cases are against Sohel Rana, his wife Naznin Nahar, sister Sonia Mehzabin, and her husband Mashukur Rahman. These cases were filed on allegations such as fraudulence, embezzlement and money laundering. Sonia and Mashukur are now in jail and Naznin is absconding.
The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) are investigating these cases. CID’s special police superintendent Mohammad Towhidul Islam, who is in charge supervising the investigation of four cases, told Prothom Alo that charge sheets have been submitted in four cases against Sohel Rana and his associates recently.
CID inspector Mohammad Sadek Ali is investigating the money laundering case against Sohel Rana. When asked about extradition of Sohel, he told Prothom Alo that he is sending a letter to the NCB regarding the matter but doesn’t know about the progress of bringing back Sohel.
On the progress of the case, Sadek Ali said a letter has been sent to the Financial Intelligence Unit (BFIU) seeking information on Sohel. The investigation has so far revealed that Sohel amassed Tk 2.5 billion ill-gotten wealth. The investigation of the case is almost at the final stage and the charge sheet will be submitted to the court soon.
DMP is investigating four other cases of embezzlement of money through fraudulence. Officials involved said that the investigation of these cases has not yet been completed. They said charge sheets will be submitted soon in these cases upon discussion with the affected customers.