Rift over gold smuggling: Plot to kill MP Anwarul set a month ago

MP Anwarul Azim (L) and his alleged killer AktaruzzamanCollected

The plot and preparations to slay MP of the Jhenaidah-4 constituency, Anwarul Azim, started at least a month ago. At least three persons involved in the planning went to Kolkata, India, 13 days prior to the incident and joined the two other persons, who went there earlier. Anwarul was killed there in the flat rented by his killers.

This information came up during the investigation of law enforcement agencies of Bangladesh and Kolkata. It has been learnt that the officials from the two countries involved in the investigation of this sensational murder case are sharing information among themselves.

The detective branch (DB) of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) has already arrested three people, who returned to Bangladesh following the killing, based on the information provided by Kolkata police.

DB sources said the three arrestees admitted that they were directly involved in the killing during the primary interrogation.

According to sources relevant to the investigation, it is being assumed that Anwarul was taken to India and killed deliberately over a dispute between international gold smuggling rings. A person named Md Aktaruzzaman alias Shahin has been identified as the mastermind behind the killing.

That flat in the New Town area of Kolkata, where the lawmaker was killed, was rented by Aktaruzzaman. He is the brother of mayor of Kotchandpur municipality in Jhenaidah, Md Shahiduzzaman.

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The police are looking for him. However, according to a relevant source, he left the country on Monday for Delhi. From there he fled to Kathmandu, Nepal.

Both Anwarul Azim and Aktaruzzaman were involved in various illegal international businesses, including gold smuggling and hundi. The investigators think that the killing of the MP is the result of a rift between them.

Apart from that, Gopal Biswas, who hosted MP Anwarul Azim after he went to Kolkata, is also involved in gold smuggling, according to a relevant source. Besides, lawmaker Anwarul had 21 cases against him. He was acquitted or exempted from these cases later. The Interpol issued a red notice against him in 2007. However, it was revoked after the Awami League came to power in 2009.

Tk 50-million-deal for the killing

According to the police in Dhaka and Kolkata, Anwarul Azim was killed in a flat of Sanjiva Garden in New Town, Kolkata. A general diary was filed with the Baranagar police station over his disappearance on 18 May.

While investigating, the Kolkata police found that two persons named Amanullah and Shilasti Rahman were residing in that flat. Based on this information, the DB police arrested them from Bangladesh. Later, another person named Faisal Ali alias Shaji was arrested.

According to relevant sources, Bangladesh police have unravelled the details of the killing by questioning the arrestees and other information from different sources. Of the arrestees, Amanullah played an important role in executing the plan. He is from the Damodar union of Phultala upazila in Khulna. He was involved in the extremist movement. Amanullah served 7 years in prison in a case filed with the Abhaynagar police station over the killing of a person named Ganesh. Later, he served 13 years in prison from 2000 to 2013 for killing a person named Iman Ali.

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However, a source familiar with the extremist activities said there is a terrorist named Amanullah. He was one of the major associates of Shimul Bhuiyan, chief of Purba Banglar Communist Party (a banned extremist political outfit). However, from details of the prison terms that he served, it is being assumed that Shimul Bhuiyan is introducing himself as Amanullah.

A source says the person introducing as Amanullah told the police during interrogation that he has a Tk 50 million contract with a person named Aktaruzzaman alias Shahin to kill lawmaker Anwarul Azim.

The police have found that Aktaruzzaman and Anwarul were old friends. Aktaruzzaman too is from Jhenaidah. He has a flat in the Gulshan of the capital. He also has US citizenship. He lives in Brooklyn, New York there.

Aktaruzzaman used his US passport while renting the flat used for the killing in Kolkata. It was mentioned in the deed for the rent.

Flat rented for the killing

Aktaruzzaman rented the flat from a woman named Nazia Banu, according to the sources of Kolkata police. Nazia’s husband Sandwip Roy, an excise official of the West Bengal government, is the original owner of the flat. The deed for the rent was signed on 25 April and the flat was handed over to Aktaruzzaman on 30 April, according to the Kolkata police.

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Killers took up residence in the flat beforehand

According to the sources relevant to the investigation, during the investigation, the person claiming to be Amanullah said Aktaruzzaman hired him for the killing. Later, he hired Mostafizur Rahman Fakir and Faisal Ali of Phultala upazila of Khulna. They also mentioned two other persons named Jihad and Siyam, who got into the flat before anyone else.

After that, on 30 April, Aktaruzzaman went there with Amanullah and a woman named Shilasti. After finalising the plan of killing, Aktaruzzaman left India for Bangladesh on 10 May, but others remained there to execute the plan.

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Shilasti and Amanullah flew back to Dhaka after the killing on 15 Ma. Mosatfizur returned on 17 May and Faisal a day later. The police are yet to locate Jihad and Siyam.

The way Anwarul was killed

According to the intelligence sources, Anwarul was taken to the rented flat after he reached Kolkata on 12 May. He was killed on that very day. Later his body was cut into pieces and moved away by the killers. However, the police don’t know yet whether the killer got help from any locals or not. The police were still in search of the body as of Wednesday.

Efforts to deceive law enforcement

Sources relevant to the investigation say, following the killing, the killers adopt various ways to deceive the members of the law enforcement and families of the victim. To confuse them, the killers provided different information at different times using Anwarul’s phone. They even changed the location of the mobile network. This is why the Kolkata police said they traced the phone in two different states. Anwarul was killed on 13 May. However, the killers texted Gopal in Anwarul’s guise saying he would go to Delhi for some special purposes and he would call Gopal upon reaching there. There is no need to call him.

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Later, on 15 May at 11:21 am, Gopal received another text on his WhatsApp from Anwarul’s number which stated, “I have reached. I am with the VIPs. There is no need to call me.”

The same text was sent from Anwarul’s number to his family members and his personal secretary also. However, on 16 May, Anwarul called his personal secretary Abdur Rauf, but he missed the call. Later, he called Anwarul Azim several times. But there was no response.

Speaking regarding this, DMP’s additional commissioner Mohammad Harun-or-Rashid said, “We have been investigating whether this was done for some family or financial matters or to control any criminal of the area. We have been closely working with the police in India in this regard…”

*This report appeared on the print and online versions of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Ashish Basu