Shaheda Begum does not seek justice for her son any more. Actually she does not dare.
The mother of four recently found herself entangled in legal woes, and she does not want to invite more trouble by continuing court battle for her son Sujan, who died in police custody five years ago.
The 62-year-old woman was made an accused in a drug-related case filed by Detective Branch of police in February this year. She was charged with sheltering four members of a yaba syndicate in her residence in the capital’s Mirpur.
Her family members as well as her tenants say they never saw the so-called syndicate members in that house.
Arrested in the case on February 2, Shaheda got released on bail after languishing in jail for six months. She suffered stroke twice while in jail.
Her two sons -- Md Sabuj, 28, and Md Sumon, 35, -- also stand accused in the case. Before arresting Shaheda, police brought Sabuj handcuffed from somewhere outside her home, witnesses said.
“We were framed so that we cannot continue the legal fight against the main accused, Sub-Inspector Jahidur Rahman, and three other cops and a civilian named Mithun,” said Shaheda at her residence last month.
“I have no courage or strength left to seek justice for my son.”
Her son Mahbubur Rahman Sujon, a garment waste trader, was allegedly tortured to death in the custody of Mirpur police on July 13, 2014.
His wife Momtaz Sultana Lucy filed a murder case with the Metropolitan Sessions Judge’s Court on July 20, accusing 10 people.
Accepting the case, the court ordered a judicial enquiry which found SI Jahid, assistant sub-inspector Raj Kumar and constables Asad and Rashedul of Mirpur Police Station and Mithun were involved in the torture and murder of Sujan.
The trial of the case is now stayed by the High Court.
Family members said when the trial was going on at a Dhaka court, SI Jahid’s mother convinced Momtaz to marry Jahid’s younger brother. She married the man and left home around three years ago, leaving her two children.
“After this, her [Momtaz’s] stance changed dramatically. A few months later, she told the court that SI Jahid was not involved in Sujan’s murder but the court did not accept it as we also gave witness statements,” said Md Shamim, elder brother of Sujan.
Later, SI Jahid’s family filed a writ petition with the High Court seeking a stay on the trial proceedings, family and court sources said.
Of the accused, only Jahid, who was suspended and arrested in the case, is behind bars.
This correspondent did not find any contact number of Momtaz. Her current address also could not be known.
A CASE TOO PUZZLING
On February 2 this year, police raided Shaheda’s residence -- House-16, Road-9, Block-E, Mirpur-1.
A DB team received a secret information that some members of a drug syndicate were hiding at the house to sell yaba smuggled in through Teknaf, according to the case filed by DB SI Harun ur Rashid.
When the officers reached the spot, the case statement reads, seven to eight members of the syndicate tried to flee. Police arrested Shaheda along with four alleged yaba dealers -- Lokman Hossain, Md Ranju and two teens aged 13 and 14.
The case documents show that 8,000 pieces of yaba pills were seized from Lokman, Ranju and the teens in front of two local witnesses -- Rafiqul Islam and Naju Mia -- and Assistant Sub-Inspector Jahangir Alam.
SI Md Eshak Ali investigated the case and submitted two separate charge sheets, including one for juvenile crime, before the court on April 28.
The complainant mentioned in the case that in front of the three witnesses he searched the bodies of the accused, recovered the yaba pills and made a seizure list. He then took signatures of the witnesses.
But both the witnesses -- Rafiqul and Naju -- told this correspondent a different story. While talking to The Daily Star on September 18, they opposed what police claimed in the case and charge sheet.
“I did not see anything,” said Rafiqul, a local trader.
He said he was having tea at a local stall and noticed a gathering near Shaheda’s house.
“As I went there, Siraj Daroga [SI Siraj of Shah Ali Police Station] who was known to me asked me to sign a paper. I could not turn down his request. Actually, I did not see anything at all.”
Rafiqul said police picked up Shaheda’s son Sabuj from somewhere and brought him handcuffed near their home.
Naju Mia, a guard of a nearby under-construction building opposite Shaheda’s house, said, “Police asked me to put my signature and I did it without knowing actually what was that.”
He said he was working on the rooftop on February 2 afternoon when he too saw police bring Sabuj handcuffed.
Later, police freed Sabuj but detained his mother, he said.
The one-storey building that Shaheda owns has a steel gate which usually remains closed. Her family members and tenants need to open the padlock to go in and out.
Naju said he did not see anyone coming out of Shaheda’s house in hours before Sabuj was brought handcuffed.
A tenant of Shaheda’s house echoed his view, saying they did not see anyone going out before the police raided the house in the afternoon.
SI Siraj was recently transferred to the railway police, according to the duty officer of Shah Ali Police Station. His contact number was also not available.
Contacted, DB SI Harun ur Rashid, complainant of the case, said whatever the witnesses and he mentioned in the case is true. He claimed Sabuj was a yaba trader and the woman used to shelter the yaba dealers.
Shaheda said her son Sabuj has some addiction to yaba, but he was never an yaba dealer. There was no drug case filed against him, she added.
However, Sabuj was made an accused in an arms case filed by SI Jahid in 2013 and he secured bail, according to the family members.
SI Md Eshak Ali also says he stands by the case statement and that “criminals say a lot of things.”
POLICE ‘TOOK AWAY TK 7.5 LAKH’
During the February 2 raid, police took away Tk 7.5 lakh breaking open the almirah of her room, alleged Shaheda and her family members.
But the amount was not mentioned in the seizure list, they said.
Shaheda said they got the money by selling off 1.5-katha land in the city’s Paikpara.
“I wanted to construct another floor in my building for the future of Sujan’s two children. But it seems that’s not to be,” she said.
SI Harun denied that police took away Tk 7.5 lakh from the house.