Vol. 5 Num 630 Tue. March 07, 2006  
Front Page

Villagers clueless

The villagers of Rampur, some 150 kilometres from the capital, remained clueless about Bangla Bhai's presence among them although he had been visiting the local Imam for more than a year.

Chan Miah is the Imam of the small local mosque in the village, known as Panjakhana. He sheltered the man with a Tk 50 lakh bounty on his head, not only risking his own life but also by keeping himself aloof from his family and the community.

Law enforcers could not arrest Chan Miah as he had supposedly gone to his in-laws' house on Friday to take care of his wife Rina.

The location of the village could be one of the reasons why Siddiqul Islam alias Bangla Bhai chose the place for his shelter even after the arrest of the militant supremo Abdur Rahman and amid law enforcers' continuous raids.

Rab said Bangla Bhai had arrived in Mymensingh on Thursday and went to Rampur on Friday.

The village under Dollah union of Muktagachha Upazila in Mymensingh, is just two kilometres away from Jamalpur, home district of Rahman, and only three kilometres from Tangail, one of the major JMB strongholds.

The villagers and relatives of Chan Miah acknowledged that some mysterious guests, one of whom they yesterday learnt was Bangla Bhai, used to visit him and stayed at his house.

The local residents told journalists that Chan had secluded himself from his family members and lived on his own. "He did not have friends, neither had any contact with his relatives," a villager said.

"I have been seeing those bearded-men coming to his [Chan] house for the last one year," said Chan's aunt Ajufa. Chan never bothered to answer to the queries of the villagers. "Once I asked his wife about the visitors," Ajufa, also the next-door neighbour, continued, " to which she meekly replied 'guests'."

"The guests used to come after months gap and stay a night or sometimes a couple," said Chan's sister-in-law Sakina.

The villagers and Chan's relatives said they saw the guests bathe in the adjacent pond, offer prayers in Panjakhana and stay within themselves. They used to talk among themselves in the room where Bangla Bhai used to stay.

Chan secluded his tin-roofed 12 feet by 24 feet mud house with a six feet long verandah and two rooms, by putting fences all around the boundary and constructed a four feet by four feet enclosure with mud walls on the premises claiming that his guests would bathe there. Rab later found weapons hidden in a ditch inside the walled enclosure.

Newaz Ali, father of Chan Miah who also lives with him, said he knew nothing about the guests as he was not on good terms with his son. Chan provides for his family by cultivating his own farmlands.

Chan was educated at Shukur Fakirer Madrasa in Gayeshpur village under Muktagachha Upazila, his father told journalists, refusing to make any more comments either on his son or Bangla Bhai.

Mujahidul Islam alias Imtiaz, 30, rented the ground floor of a four-storey house at 166/A/3 RK Mission Road in Mymensingh City, from where Rab arrested Fahima Khatun, 22, wife of Bangla Bhai.

The owner of the house Sekandar Ali lives abroad and his wife Asma lives in Dhaka with her family. Sekandar's nephew Hira, 30, looks after the house.

Asma told The Daily Star that Istiaq Ahmed, who introduced himself as a vegetable wholesaler, rented the ground floor at Tk 2,500 a month to live with his pregnant wife Roksana Khatun and brother-in-law Mushfiqur Rahman Ronny.

"I saw another veiled woman in the flat when I went to visit my house two months back," said Asma. "When I asked Roksana about the other woman she told me the woman was her sister-in-law who came to take care of her as she was carrying."

Other tenants of the building said they did not know the identities of the tenants on the ground floor, as they remained aloof.