Vol. 5 Num 154 Wed. October 27, 2004  
Front Page

Rab action kills 4 in city, 1 in Rangpur

Five people including three alleged criminals, a trader and an Awami League activist were killed in three separate operations by the Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) in the capital and in Rangpur in the early hours yesterday.

Rab sources as usual claimed they were killed in 'crossfire' or 'shootout' between criminals and the Rab members. With these killings, the death count in Rab operations rose to 39 since the elite force swung into action in April this year.

Alleged criminals Naziur Rahman alias Naijya and his brother Faruq alias Falainya, and Sekendar Ali, were killed in a 'crossfire' in Baunia embankment area under Pallabi Police Station in the capital at about 1:30am, Rab officials said.

Khan Mohammad Shahabuddin, 38, president of Karwan Bazar Pucca Arat Baboshayi Samiti (wholesale traders association) was killed during an 'encounter' with the Rab members at Karwan Bazar at around 12:15am, they said.

Besides, Abul Kalam Azad, an activist of Rangpur Awami League and leader of a local transport workers' union, was killed in another 'crossfire' at Haragachh rail crossing in Rangpur at about 2:00am, our district correspondent reports.

Rab sources said three Rab members were injured in the firefight at Baunia and another in Rangpur. Rab, however, did not disclose their identities.

Rab said they arrested four accomplices of Karwan Bazar businessman Shahabuddin and seized a revolver with three bullets from the spot during the operation. The arrestees are Rion Khandaker, owner of a wholesale shop, Mokter Hossain, Ramna thana correspondent of the Daily Janakantha, Shafiq Rahman and Bellal Hossain.

A writ petition was filed in the High Court on Monday challenging the formation of Rab and seeking an injunction on the activities of the elite force. Different rights groups are also criticising the Rab for deaths in their custody.

A Rab team arrested Naziur Rahman alias Naijya, 30, a top criminal on the Pallabi police list and accused in eight criminal cases including murder, at Bhulta in Roopganj upazila of Narayanganj district on Monday night.

Following his statement they nabbed alleged criminal Miraj from Keraniganj and another member of the gang, Faruq alias Falynya, an accused in 21 cases including murders, rape and extortion, from Khilgaon area in the capital.

Acting on their confessional statement, the Rab members raided Baunia embankment area in search of their accomplices and arrested Sekander, 30, an accused in 26 cases including one for killing, at about 6:00am on Monday.

A Rab official said when they went to Buania slum with Naijya, Faruq and Sekander to arrest other members of the gang at around 1:00am Tuesday, armed criminals opened fire on the Rab members prompting them to retaliate.

"The three criminals tried to flee and died in the shootout," he said. The three bodies with numerous bullet wounds were sent to Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) morgue.

The Rab members seized one pistol, 14 bullets, one magazine, two homemade bombs and 250 grams heroin from the spot during the operations.

Meanwhile, Joshna Begum, wife of Faruq, went to the Rab office at Paikpara in Mirpur Monday noon to meet her husband and brother-in-law, but the Rab did not allow her. "One officer told me that a meeting was on. He asked me to go away saying they (Faruq and Naijya) would be tried at 12:01am tonight," she alleged.

A joint team of Rab-1 and Rab-4, on information that Shahabuddin and his accomplices were holding a secret meeting at the city's biggest kitchen market Karwan Bazar, raided Hotel Khan in the area at around 11:50pm on Monday.

The Rab press release said when the anticrime force conducted the raid, the criminals opened fire to escape arrest. The Rab men then answered with bullets for self-defence, leaving Shahabuddin bullet-hit in all parts of his body.

Rab said Shahabuddin died on way to hospital but sources said he was killed on the spot. The officer-in-charge of Tejgaon Police Station took him to the DMCH and three Rab men were injured during the shootout, Rab claimed.

The body of Shahabuddin was handed over to his family.

Rab-1 Commanding Officer Lt Col Chowdhury Fazlul Bari at a briefing at his office yesterday morning said they had conducted the midnight raid on Hotel Khan where Shahabuddin was killed in an encounter with the criminals.

However, witnesses said the incident took place at the office of Karwan Bazar Pucca Arat Baboshayi Samity on the roof of the hotel. They said some 50 Rab men stormed into the office adjacent to the market's guards quarters.

As the Rab men knocked the door at the staircase on the roof, the Ansar members opened it. The Rab men then asked all the 16 Ansar members to keep quiet and not to open fire even if they hear any gunshots, said an Ansar.

"Then the Rab men entered Shahabuddin's office room and we heard around 40 gunshots," said the Ansar. More than two hours later they saw the Rab dragging a body out of the office without letting them see it.

Shahabuddin's brother Mohammad Dulal however rejected Rab's claim and told reporters that he (Shahabuddin) was not involved with any criminal activities.

Lt Col Fazlul Bari at the briefing termed Sunday's procession in Kawran Bazar against extortion as pretension. "We have prepared a list of those who joined the procession and we will take action against all of them," he said.

Bari also said following the death of Pichchi Hannan, extortion in the Kawran Bazar kitchen market stopped for two months. "But Shahabuddin and his gang tried to take control of the market filling the gap of Hannan."

Rab sources said leader of Rangpur Awami League and transport workers' union Abul Kalam Azad was killed when a Rab team encountered firing by his accomplices at Haragachh rail crossing at about 2:00am Tuesday.

Several bullets pierced the head of Azad. He was taken to Rangpur Medical College Hospital where the doctors on duty declared him dead.

One Rab member was also injured in the shootout, Rab claimed.

Rab arrested Azad on October 18 from Rangpur bus terminal with two pistols, one revolver and four rounds of bullets.

According to the police, Azad was a top listed criminal of the district and accused in more than two dozen cases including murder and arms cases, 22 of which were filed with Kotwali Police Station.

A tea-stall worker in his early life, Azad later became a transport leader. He was elected secretary of Rangpur District Transport Workers' Union thrice. Azad contested the last election to Rangpur municipality as chairman candidate from Awami League.

The body of Azad was handed over to his family members after autopsy.

The death of dreaded extortionist and crime boss of the city's Karwan Bazar Khan Mohammad Shahabuddin in a gunfight with Rab early hours yesterday is greeted by jubilation of common traders of the market. PHOTO: STAR