Home / Sylhet / One year on, justice for Rayhan’s death in custody still remains elusive

One year on, justice for Rayhan’s death in custody still remains elusive

Rayhan’s mother, Salma Begum, and wife, Tahmina Akhter Tani, demanded that the case of Rayhan’s murder be disposed of as soon as possible

Even though a year has passed since the shocking death of Rayhan Ahmed in police custody, his family members are worried as there has been little progress in starting the trial of the sensational case to bring the offenders to justice.

The slow pace in the investigation has led to frustration among Rayhan’s family members as they are still on the streets demanding justice.

On Sunday afternoon, the day before his one-year death anniversary, Rayhan’s mother and wife took part in a human chain in Sylhet town with Rayhan’s one and a half-year-old baby girl, Alfa, demanding justice.

Family’s frustration

At the human chain, Rayhan’s mother, Salma Begum, and wife, Tahmina Akhter Tani, demanded that the case of Rayhan’s murder be disposed of as soon as possible.

Salma Begum said, “Even though most of the accused have been arrested and the court has accepted the charge sheet, we’re disappointed over the delay in case trials. The case could be shifted to a speedy trial tribunal, if necessary.”

Tani said Abdullah Al Noman, one of the accused, is still on the run and he might have fled the country. “The authorities should immediately trace him and do whatever is needed to bring him back if he’s hiding abroad,” she said.

Departmental probe doesn’t end

Nine departmental cases were filed against nine policemen, including SI Akbar, over Rayhan’s death in custody.

Unfortunately, the investigation into these cases could not be completed even in one year, giving an impression that the accused are getting away with just temporary suspensions.

Asked about it, Deputy Commissioner (North) of the Sylhet Metropolitan Police Azbahar Ali Sheikh said, “We are conducting an internal investigation into the allegations against the accused policemen. The testimonies of some people have already been recorded in addition to taking the statements of the accused.”

“The investigation report against them will be sent to the police department and action will be taken against them as per the departmental law,” he added.

A Sylhet court on September 30 accepted the charge sheet against six people, including suspended sub-inspector and prime accused Akbar Hossain, in Rayhan Ahmed’s death case.

The court also issued a warrant for arresting fugitive accused Abdullah Al Noman, who had allegedly helped Akbar flee the country, said Sylhet Metropolitan Police inspector Pradeep Chandra Das.

The other four accused in the case are sub-inspector Hasan Ali, assistant sub-inspector Ashek Elahi, and constables Harunur Rashid and Titu Chandra Das of Bandarbazar police outpost.

The court has fixed November 2 for hearing the case.

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On May 5, the Police Bureau of Investigation (PBI) submitted the charge sheet in the case.

How Rayhan died

Rayhan was allegedly beaten to death in police custody on October 11, 2020.

Rayhan called his mother from an unknown number in the early hours of October 11 and told her that police took him to the Bandarbazar outpost and demanded Tk10,000 for his release.

Later in the day, his uncle rushed to the police outpost with Tk5,000 but the cops allegedly refused to accept the bribe and asked him to return after arranging Tk10,000.

Rayhan’s uncle then again went to the Bandarbazar police outpost with the money but was told that his nephew had fallen sick and taken to a hospital.

When his uncle went to the hospital, he came to know that Rayhan had died and his body had been sent for post-mortem.

Turning down the allegations of custodial torture, police then said Rayhan was caught by locals in the Kastghar area during a robbery and had been lynched.

Rayhan’s autopsy report revealed over 100 injury marks on his body and two of his nails were also pulled out.

The news of Rayhan’s death triggered massive protests by locals as they blocked the Sylhet-Sunamganj Highway, demanding action against the accused cops.

On October 12 last year, Rayhan’s wife, Tanni, filed a complaint at the Kotwali police station, following which an FIR was registered against unidentified people.

Four policemen, including then in-charge of the Bandarbazar police outpost Akbar, were suspended on October 12. The three other policemen were also withdrawn from the outpost the same day.

Later, the case was transferred to the PBI.

On October 22, then SMP Commissioner Golam Kibria was transferred over widespread criticism for the role of police in Rayhan’s death.

On November 29, Dr Shamsul Islam, the chief of the Forensic Department of Osmani Medical College Hospital, said Rayhan died due to severe injuries “as per the viscera report”.

On November 18, 2020, a court sent Akbar to judicial custody in connection with Rayhan’s death. Earlier, he was arrested from the Dona frontier area of Kanaighat on November 10.