Deepak Bhowmik, readymade garments businessman and chairman of Landmark Group, was picked up from his home by plainclothesmen claiming to be members of the police’s Detective Branch (DB). Later, however, DB investigations revealed the plainclothesmen were actually members of the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB).
Businessman Deepak Bhowmik was picked up from his home in New DOHS, Mohakhali, Dhaka on 24 August afternoon. Deepak’s son Rakesh Piari Bhowmik said that around 8 to 10 armed persons had come to their home, claiming to be members of the detective branch. Depaak Bhowmik was released the next day and returned home.
Before his release, son Rakesh had filed a general diary (GD) with the Kafrul police station. The GD stated that the armed persons told Deepak, “there are allegations against you and you must come with us.” They also took away three iphones used by Deepak and his wife.
He was taken away in a white microbus with dark windows (licence no. Dhaka Metro Cha 53-7230). They also left a mobile number to contact them.
Rakesh Piari Bhowmik told Prothom Alo that after he filed the GD, DB deputy commissioner Manosh Kumar Poddar and a joint commissioner came and questioned them. They also collected CC camera footage of the house.
Sub-inspector of Kafrul police station Zillur Rahman investigated the GD filed by Rakesh. He told Prothom Alo, “The person who filed the GD phoned the next day to say his father had been found. I even spoke to his father over the phone. They did not say anything further on the matter. We have noted down in the GD that he has been found.”
Deputy commissioner of the Mirpur zone of Dhaka Metropolitan Police, Manosh Kumar Poddar, speaking to Prothom Alo, said, “Since this was in the jurisdiction of my zone, I was told to check if DB was involved in the incident. My investigations have proven that it was not DB who picked him up.”
However, joint commissioner of DB, Mahbub Alam, said that it was evident from investigations that members of RAB-4 had picked up Deepak. A report had been submitted to the police headquarters in this regard.
On 9 December, DMP issued letters to each of its units. The subject of the letter was ‘implementation of the recommendations of the investigation committee formed regarding the incident of the Landmark chairman being picked up by 8-10 members of RAB-4 in the name of DB.’
The letter observed that reports often appeared in the media about law enforcement agencies of criminals picking up persons using the identity of the detective branch of police. This was creating alarm and a negative attitude towards DB among the public. The letter said that in any such plainclothes operations carried out by DB, a senior official should be involved and jackets with the emblem of the concerned DB unit should be worn.
The letter also asked the units to refrain from any activities contrary to the circular issued by the police headquarters on 12 January 2013 concerning ‘probe into public petitions of civil matters’ or matters that are ‘outside of policing jurisdiction.’
Additional commissioner of DB, AKM Hafiz Akhter, speaking to Prothom Alo, said that the main objective of their investigation was to ensure that the units used their own identity when carrying out operations, rather than that of DB.
RAB spokesman Lt Col Ashik Billah said that they were aware of the incident. He told Prothom Alo that an internal inquiry was being carried out into the allegations brought about against members of RAB-4. Due legal action would be taken after the investigation.
* The report, originally published in the print edition of Prothom Alo, has been rewritten in English by Ayesha Kabir