Sikder brothers fled country as ‘patients’

Sikder Group MD Ron Haque Sikder (L) and brother Dipu Haque Sikder
Sikder Group MD Ron Haque Sikder (L) and brother Dipu Haque Sikder
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Sikder Group managing director Ron Haque Sikder and his brother Dipu Haque Sikder left Dhaka on an air ambulance as ‘patients’.

They professed that the aircraft belonging to R&R Aviation Ltd, owned by the group, was an air ambulance and used to leave the country on 25 May afternoon.

The two brothers accused in a murder case had permission from all concerned authorities in the country to make the departure.

The duo left the country as per with documents related to medical treatment, said group captain AHM Touhid ul-Ahsan, director of Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport.

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Earlier, director of Exim Bank Sirajul Islam filed a case against Ron Haque Sikder and Dipu Haque Sikder, sons of Sikder Group owner Zainul Haque Sikder.

In the case statement, Sirajul accused Ron and Dipu to have attempted to murder Exim Bank managing director Mohammad Haider Ali Miah and additional managing director Mohammad Firoz Hossain, shooting at them as they did not accept their mortgage documents for a loan. Additionally, the Sikder brothers had allegedly tortured the two top bank officials at their Banani residence and forced them to sign a blank paper.

R&R Aviations, a concern of Sikder Group, owns seven helicopters and two airplanes that operate on rent. The planes include a Hawker 800 manufactured by US company Hawker Beechcraft and a Piaggio made in Italy. These corporate jets can have special beds attached for patients.

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The foreign ministry sources, however, say that the Sikder brothers did not apply to the ministry before leaving for Bangkok, instead they did it on permission from the civil aviation authorities.

According to foreign ministry officials, the ministry has been giving permission regarding immigrants returning to the country and foreigners going abroad due to suspension of regular air travel. Air ambulance and cargo carriers are permitted to travel.

Moreover, the ministry has handed the process to civil aviation authorities to save time on recommendation from EU countries. Despite so, a cancer patient was flown back to the country, another critical one was sent to Istanbul while another was flown back from Bangkok. The ministry reportedly has been overseeing the issues.

The foreign ministry sources, however, say that the Sikder brothers did not apply to the ministry before leaving for Bangkok, instead they did it on permission from the civil aviation authorities.

According to sources in the civil aviation authorities, R&R Aviation had sought permission from the foreign ministry to fly their aircraft to Thailand as an air ambulance. Permission was sought on behalf of Bangladesh embassy in Bangkok from the Thai foreign ministry which allowed the aircraft to land.

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No one from R&R Aviation commented on the issue. “There were no instructions to halt their travel,” said Mir Shahidul Islam, additional inspector general of police told Prothom Alo.

R&R Aviation used that permission to apply for travel submitting details on the passengers. On permission, the aircraft left Dhaka on 25 May with two pilots, one engineer and the two Sikder brothers. The aircraft returned to Dhaka in the night, but the foreign ministry claimed it did not know anything.

No one from R&R Aviation commented on the issue. “There were no instructions to halt their travel,” said Mir Shahidul Islam, additional inspector general of police told Prothom Alo.

Investigations have started, said Sudip Kumar Chakraborty, Gulshan division deputy commissioner under the DMP.

However, the police did not try to detain the brothers when fled the country submitting false information. According to a DMP source, the police did not do anything but a primary investigation as there were no instructions from the top level of government.

Though the murder attempt took place on 7 May, the case was filed on 19 May, the source noted saying meanwhile several ruling party leaders made recommendations to the top quarters of police to refrain from filing any case and to discontinue the probe.

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