Officer-in-Charge Pradeep Kumar Das in handcuffs -- this is not a sight that the villagers of Shamlapur in Teknaf thought they'd ever see in their lifetimes.
With at least 84 "shootouts" under his belt, all committed in the upazila in Cox's Bazar, and no prosecution in any of the cases, this 2019 Bangladesh Police Medal recipient had gained a reputation of impunity.
But today, investigators brought Pradeep, Inspector Liaqat and Sub-inspector Nandadulal Rakshit to the spot where Maj (retd) Sinha Rashed Khan was killed on July 31, to provide a blow-by-blow account of what happened. The media was invited to watch from the sidelines.
"Sinha left the Border Guard Bangladesh check-post at 9:23pm, on his way back to Cox's from Teknaf. He probably reached here by 9:26 pm, and was killed in the next two minutes or so. We are analysing every second of the few minutes within which the shooting took place, and the accused are being brought to the scene, to account for every minute spent here," said Additional Director General (operations) of Rab Col Tofayel Mustafa Sorwar.
Rakshit was brought out first. With his hands still cuffed, Rakshit proactively assisted the Rab men in arranging the barricades in the zigzag pattern they had on July 31, while investigation officer Senior Assistant Superintendent of Police Khayrul Islam listened.
Most of the conversation happened in low tones out of earshot of the spectators, but Rakshit was overheard exclaiming, "'Shoot, shoot!' he told me."
Liaqat was marched out next. A car was parked in front of the Armed Police Battalion (APBn) check-post where the incident happened, to assist Liaqat in "re-enacting" what happened.
"He told us that he was on the left of the car when Sinha's car was pulled over, and then he moved himself to the front of the car so that Sinha cannot just drive away," said the investigation officer Khayrul. It was from there that he fired the first shot.
Even though Pradeep was brought out, he was not asked to re-enact his positions of the night -- he was simply marched up and down the street twice, hands cuffed and arms held tightly by two Rab men, while cameras rolled and people watched.
Was he simply put on exhibition in front of the public? Possibly.
Did the public think it was metaphorical justice? Yes.
The crowd roared slangs and slurs. A few cried out asking that he be left alone with them for five minutes. "We never thought this day would happen … he 'did' several 'crossfires' and I heard Teknaf is worse," said a frail old man who had come to watch.
These three cops have been in the custody of Rab since August 18.
At midnight on Thursday, Ramu Police Station handed the seized electronic items of Sinha and his group over to Rab.
Those 29 items included cell phones, external hard disks and a laptop. Besides, Tk 2 lakh in cash was given to Rab's Senior ASP Biman Chandra Karmakar, said OC Abul Khayer of Ramu Police Station.
On August 19, Senior Judicial Magistrate Tamanna Farah ordered police to hand the goods to Rab after hearing a petition filed by the force.