The miscreants involved in the killing of Rifat Sharif in broad daylight in Barguna Wednesday, have close ties with two influential local Awami League leaders, according to locals and several leaders of the party in the district.
One among the main three accused, Sabbir Ahmed aka Nayan Bond, is a close accomplice of Sunam Debnath, district Awami League science and technology secretary and the son of Barguna-1 MP Dhirendra Debnath Shambhu.
The two other accused, Rifat Farajee, and Rishan Farajee, are nephews of Delwar Hossain, chairman of Barugna zila parishad (district council) who is a former vice-president of district of Awami Leauge.
"Who shelters whom, find that out,” district AL general secretary Jahangir Kabir told Prothom Alo adding, “We demand exemplary punishment regarding the incident”.
Both Delwar and Sunam, however, denied having any ties with the accused. "Though they (Farajee brothers) are my relatives, I didn’t have any relation with their family over the last two years," Delwar Hossain said. Sunam Debnath, on the other hand, claimed to have no ties with Sabbir saying, “a quarter is spreading such propaganda.”
But Sunam's name appeared in the media before in connection with Sabbir. The district Chhatra League president Zubayer Adnan and general secretary Tanvir Hossain told the media, holding a press conference on 28 April last year, that Sabbir was a drug trader and terrorist, and he was an associate of Sunam Debnath. Similar allegations were brought against Suman's family member Abhijit Talukdar. In the preceding year, Sabbir was arrested with Tk 1.2 million worth of heroin and managed to receive bail in the case with Sunam's cooperation.
Sunam, however, denied all the allegations holding a counter-press conference at that time.
"I had briefed the media about Sabbir's crimes last year…the incident (killing of Rifat) would not take place if fast action was taken," Zubayer said.
The video of Rifat being killed was widely shared on social media. Though it shows Ayesha Siddika, the victim's wife, trying desperately to save her husband, posts stigmatising her are being circulated on Facebook. "This was being done to save the perpetrators," Hosne Ara, CEO of a local private organisation, Jago, said regarding the posts.
“Arresting the accused was the priority of the moment, but the discussions on social media drew our attention too,” investigating officer at Barguna Sadar police station, Humayun Kabir, said. “We’ll look into this.”
People formed a human chain in front of Barguna Press Club Saturday demanding arrest and trial of the killers soon. Rifat's father Dulal Sharif talked at the programme while Sunam Debnath too delivered speech there. Several other local Awami League leaders joined in the programme.
A youth in his 20s, Rifat, was hacked to death by four miscreants in front of the main gate of Barguna Government College. His father filed a case accusing 12 people including Sabbir Ahmed. Police have arrested four persons in connection with the case so far.
One among the accused Saimun, 21, was detained from Patuakhali on Friday while chief accused Sabbir is still out of reach.
*This report, originally published in Prothom Alo print edition, has been rewritten here in English by Nusrat Nowrin.