Vol. 5 Num 626 Fri. March 03, 2006  
Front Page

Terror don surrenders meekly
Abdur Rahman brought to Dhaka for interrogation on 10-day remand; he accuses Rab of violating human rights

The man, who terrorised the country with his ruthless squad of bombers and preferred death to surrender in the cause of Jihad, yesterday walked out of his den, meek and cowed, into the law enforcers' hands, ending a 34-hour suspense.

Breaking a 26-hour silence, Shaekh Abdur Rahman, chief of the banned Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), finally surrendered at 7:06am to the Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) that had pinned him down at a Sylhet house since Tuesday night.

Under high security, he has been brought to Dhaka by road for interrogation at the Rab-1 office in Uttara after a Sylhet court remanded him for 10 days.

Before giving in, Rahman, whose band of killers carried out serial blasts on a number of occasions to kill more than 30 people and injure many others, charged the Rab of "violating human rights" by cutting off his utility supplies.

"You have stopped my gas, electricity and water supply," Rahman appeared on the window and spoke in a weak tone. "It is violation of human rights."

"I want a peaceful solution. I want to meet Khaleda, Hasina, Ershad and [Lutfozzaman] Babar," he blurted out. He also wanted to talk to the media.

"Once I surrender, I will not get the chance to talk with the media and say what I have to tell the countrymen," Rahman said in a weak voice, asking for a loudhailer.

The Rab members applied both coaxing and threats to snap the terrorist's psyche. "You have wasted enough time. We won't tolerate any more," a law enforcer shouted at Rahman.

"They [Khaleda, Hasina, Ershad and Babar] could not come here," another law enforcer said. "We have made sitting arrangement for you in the next house where you can talk to the media. You will be given all types of legal support."

The law enforcers asked Rahman to come out unarmed only in his pyjamas. "We will keep our words, but you will have to come out first. You will not carry anything in your hands or on your body. You have to show you are safe for all," a Rab officer said on a loudhailer.

A hesitant Rahman consulted with his two aides--Moizul Islam alias Hridoy Chowdhury, 40, and Hanif alias Abdul Aziz, 27--also holed up in the building. He repeated his demands for a few more times. Then he nodded to his cohorts, signalling with his head that the game is over.

A few moments later, Rahman in a white flowing beard and draped in long punjabi, a red-and-white chequered scarf and a topi on his head walked out of the single-storey house at East Shaplabagh. He was clutching a copy of the Quran.

The terrorist looked like a cornered mouse.

He and his two accomplices were immediately handcuffed and whisked away in a sports utility vehicle, not letting Rahman talk with the mediamen who had been waiting there since Tuesday night.

Journalists were also not allowed at the Rab-1 office in Dhaka when Rahman and other arrestees were taken there at 3:00pm yesterday.

Rab officials said they will not allow any journalists as they have already started their interrogation. They said they may arrange a briefing for journalists today.

A case was filed with Sylhet Kotwali Police Station against nine, including Rahman. A motorcade of top Rab officials took them to the court of Magistrate Ershadul Haque who sent Rahman on a 10-day remand upon a petition submitted by the police.

The law enforcers seized a two-kg bomb, 11 detonators, power gel, electric wires, 21 CDs and books on Jihad, and a motorcycle from the house. The police later sealed the house.

Earlier, on receiving and verifying information from several sources about Rahman's possible stay somewhere in Sylhet town, the Rab decided to conduct the operation in East Shaplabagh area in Sylhet city.

Around 60 Rab men from the headquarters started for Sylhet at around 6:00pm Tuesday and started door-to-door search in Shaplabagh area around three hours later.

After being sure about Rahman's stay at Surya Dighal Bari on Road No. 2 of block-A of East Shaplabagh residential area, Rab men cordoned off an area of 2-kilometre radius centring the house and repeatedly asked Rahman to surrender.

Rahman held talks with the law enforcers until 4:00am the following day, repeatedly saying he would rather commit suicide than surrender. He said there are powerful explosives in the house.

The law enforcers snapped supply of electricity, water and gas, lobbed teargas shells inside the house, threw water through the windows, ventilators and a hole drilled on the roof.

At one stage, Rahman's wife Nurjahan Begum Rupa, daughter Afifa Rahman, sons Ahmed, Fuad and Ashraf, Afifa's son Talha, domestic help Taslima, Moizul's wife Chameli Begum and her minor son came out of the house at 12:30pm on Wednesday.

Rahman, however, did not make any response to the Rab's repeated calls for surrender.

Later, the law enforcers took a pause in their attempt to break into the house at night but kept watch on one of the rooms through intelligence devices.

On a telescopic camera popped through the hole drilled on the roof, the Rab noticed some movements at around 5:00am yesterday. They also used devices for listening through the wall to track movements and thus Rahman's position in the room.

Hundreds of people from all walks of life crowded in front of the Rab-9 headquarters, cheering at Rahman's arrest when a motorcade carrying Rahman and other arrestees started for the court.

"This culprit has put us down and insulted all people of Sylhet by taking shelter here," a rickshawvan-puller said.

"Abdur Rahman disgraced and tainted Sylhet and its people. Had we known about his stay here, we would have taught him a good lesson," an NGO worker said.

The high-powered handmade bomb Rahman kept with him was damaged by the water thrown by firefighters.

When Rab men asked Rahman why he had not blasted the bomb although he said he would do so, Rahman said, "How could I explode it? You have damaged it throwing water."

The bomb was later kept in a polythene bag on a table in a bedroom of the house.

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Law enforcers escort JMB chief Abdur Rahman after he came out of his hideout at Shaplabagh in Sylhet yesterday to end a 34-hour swashbuckling operation to capture him. Photo: TV grab