While speaking to this correspondent, people from different professions in the city and locals in the late councilor's area raised such questions and suspicions.

Shah Alam, 28, a resident of Sujanagar Boubazar area, and the main accused in the murder, was killed in a reported gunfight with police at Chanpur area adjacent to the embankment of Gomti River in Cumilla at 1:15am on Wednesday. Earlier, Sabbir Hossain, 28, and Sajon, 32, two accused in the murder, were killed in a reported gunfight with police at Songraish Balumahal area adjacent to the embankment of Gomti River at 12:45am on Monday. Sabbir was accused no. 3 and Sajon no. 5.

On 22 November 2021, Cumilla City Corporation's ward 17 councilor Md Sohel and his associate Haripad were shot dead in the city's Pathariapara Three Star Enterprise business office. At the time five others received bullet injuries.

Councillor Md Sohel's younger brother Syed Md Rumon filed a case mentioning 11 names and eight to 10 more people in the incident on 23 November. Police arrested five accused and two more on suspicion till yesterday. Three accused have been killed. Among three more accused, no. 2 accused Sohel alias Jail Sohel, no. 10 accused Saymon and no. 11 accused are on the run. Police has been looking for welder Nazim alias Picchi Nazim of Shubhopur area, who was standing with a pistol behind Shah Alam, according to CCTV footage.

Concerns over gunfight

People from Pathuriapara, Sujanagar, Tikkarchar have expressed anger and concern over the two reported gunfights within a span of 48 hours.

This correspondent talked to at least 30 people in those areas on Thursday.

Preferring not to be named while talking to this correspondent at Tikkarchar graveyard gate, at least 12 people said they (Shah Alam and Sajon) were undoubtedly bad people. But before knowing who gave orders to kill the councilor and who are behind this, the 'crossfire' cannot be supported.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, the plaintiff in the case and deceased councilor Md Sohel's younger brother Syed Md Rumon said, "Let the names of the godfathers who provided arms and money to carry out the killing, be disclosed. Some people are definitely involved in this killing. The mystery could be known if information could be collected from those who are killed in the gunfight."

Deceased Shah Alam is the son of late Janu Mia from Sujanagar Boubazar area. There are at least six cases against Shah Alam on different charges including murder, arms, narcotics and criminal activities.

When asked, Bangladesh Human Rights Implementation organisation Cumilla district unit president and lawyer Nazmul Alam Chowdhury Noman said, "Such extrajudicial killing cannot be acceptable in presence of an independent judiciary. Whom are police wanting to protect in the name of this crossfire drama? Why could the people not know the motive of this killing? Such crossfire is carried out within span of two days to hide what truth? A just society cannot be established by threats. Crime also cannot be controlled. Whether there is a link with puja mandap incidents must also be taken into consideration."

There are at least three cases each against deceased Sabbir and Sajon on charges of possessing arms, narcotics and of carrying out criminal activities. Both of them were members of Shah Alam group.

Cumilla city unit Awami League general secretary Arfanul Haque said, "As a politically conscious man, the crossfire is not a solution. Questions emerge among people over the extrajudicial matter. This is also true that they shot councilor Sohel dead in broad daylight at his business firm. This cannot be tolerated. We want justice for this murder."

In replying to a question, Cumilla additional police super Md Sohan Sarker said the three people, who were arrested in connection with Cumilla councilor and killed, were the planners and murderers.

As per primary investigation, statements of the witnesses and interrogation of the accused and confessional statements of several under Section 164, the matter is clear.

All of them mentioned the names of Shah Alam, Sabbir and Sajon. Those, who were killed, are not petty criminals. Their incidents signaled that there is no scope to avoid punishment after committing crimes.

Shah Alam killed in 'crossfire' too

According to police, they came to know on Wednesday night that several miscreants with arms were staying at Chanpur embankment area near Gomti River. A team comprising district detective branch of police and Kotwali model police station conducted an operation. The miscreants indiscriminately opened fire when the police reached the embankment of Gomti River. In defence, policemen also retaliated. At one stage of firing, several miscreants fled. At the time, a person with bullet injuries was seen to have fallen with a firearm in his hands. Later he was taken to Cumilla Medical College Hospital. Physicians there declared him dead. Later it was known that person is the main accused in the murder of councillor Sohel and his associate Haripad. Two policemen were also injured during the firing. They were admitted to Cumilla police hospital.

One more accused arrested

Imran Khandaker, 20, a suspect in the murder of councilor Sohel, has been arrested. He was arrested from Alekharchar area of Cumilla model sadar upazila at 11:00pm on Wednesday. He is from Sujanagar area. In a press release, Cumilla district police disclose this on Thursday.

Police said on 22 November Imran Khandaker's maternal cousin and no. 8 accused Jisan called him (Imran) over phoned to his residence (Jisan).

After reaching Jisan's house, Imran found Shah Alam, Sabbir, Jail Sohel, Sajon, Masum and more two to three unidentified persons. They kept arms and hand bombs in three black bags. Imran and Jisan also joined to place firearms and hand bombs in the bags. Handing over three bags to Imran and Jisan, they fled. Later, they (Imran and Jisan) dropped the bags at a house at Rahim Doctor's Lane in Songrais area. Imran was sent to a court of Cumilla on Thursday afternoon. In a deposition to police under section 164, he admitted that he carried arms.

*This report, originally published in Prothom Alo print and online editions, has been rewritten in English by Rabiul Islam.

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