Two men died in Dhaka’s Kadamtali in an encounter with RAB around noon on Monday.
The elite force claimed the dead, identified as ‘Wasim’, 50, and ‘Sangram’, 45, were kidnappers but the families of the victims say otherwise.
Three members of the RAB have also been injured in the shootout, the force told the media.
RAB-10 Commander Lt Col Khandaker Golam Sarowar, however, did not give any details on the nature of the injuries of its members or where they were being treated.
The incident coincides with State Minister for Home Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal’s comment on Monday in which he sprung to the defence of police with human rights bodies directing a barrage of criticism at them over alleged ‘encounters’.
Tipped off that several abducted people were being held at a house in the capital’s Kadamtali, RAB conducted a raid, claimed RAB official Sarowar.
Four people, identified as ‘Aktar’, 48, ‘Jahangir’, 26, ‘Rana’, 26 and ‘Jony’, 27, were rescued from the house following the ‘gunfight’, he said.
The skirmish took place around noon. “RAB fired back in retaliation and during the encounter three of our men and two others were hit by bullets,” said the RAB-10 commander.
This is a standardised account of any extralegal killings in so-called ‘crossfire’, ‘encounter’ and ‘shootout’ in common parlance.
Doctors at the capital’s Mitford Hospital declared the two suspected kidnappers dead after they were rushed in.
Dr Sahadeb Rajbangshi of the hospital told bdnews24.com: “The RAB brought them in around 2pm. But the two had died earlier. Both the bodies have marks of gunshots.”
According to RAB, Wasim leased the toll-plaza of Buriganga Bridge at Postagola area. He also used to extort auto-rickshaw drivers in the area while Sangram was his accomplice.
Sensing RAB personnel cordoning-off the house, the ‘kidnappers’ tried to escape by climbing down rainwater pipes, said Lt Col Sarowar while describing the raid.
“Of them (kidnappers), Wasim, failing to escape by climbing down rainwater pipes, faced the RAB in the stairs while firing. He was shot when the RAB fired back. At about the same time, Sangram was shot while climbing down,” he said.
Wasim’s wife Sonia Begum, however, said otherwise.
“RAB came in to my house and shot dead my husband, who was innocent,” she told reporters.
The other ‘kidnappers’ managed to make off, according to the chief of RAB-10.
He said the law enforcers rescued four persons held from a room in the house, which he described as a ‘torture cell’. Two pistols had also been found at the spot.
RAB produced the four before the media during the press conference.
One of them, identifying himself as ‘Akter’, an auto-rickshaw driver, said that Wasim extorted Tk 130 everyday from auto-rickshaw drivers.
Wasim and his accomplices had tortured him in many ways for the last two years, as he had not paid up, according to Akter.
He said that Wasim’s men abducted him from Sanarpar area on Feb 2 and kept him confined and tortured.
Wasim also demanded ransom from Akter’s family, according to RAB.
Jahangir and Jony, who the RAB claims were rescued in Sunday’s raid, told the media that they had been abducted by Wasim on Feb 2 from Ashulia and he had demanded Tk 50,000 as ransom from their families.
The duo, however, failed to give any details of their occupation and permanent address upon queries from the press.
The other one, Rana, said he was a sweet-trader and that Wasim had abducted him from Narayanganj.
Jahangir, Jony and Rana all three confirmed that they did not know Wasim before their abduction.